Apparently, people are upset with the president for flying onto an aircraft carrier. Grandstanding, they say. The White House is rightly defending the president. Why are Democrats so hypocritical? Why didn't they criticise Clinton for doing the same thing?
What michael means by "the same thing" is to point to this obscure photo of Clinton wearing a jumpsuit on deck of a carrier, and claiming it's identical to Bush, commandeering a navy jet to fly a distance shorter than that from the White House to Camp David (solely for the drama), to an aircraft carrier full of tired servicemen that was delayed an extra day, and then strutting across the flight deck in full flight gear (not a mere jumpsuit) in front of hundreds of reporters who were invited for a major speech.
In response to this, Instapundit notes rather pointedly that "Nor do I think that it's wise for Republicans to set standards based on what Clinton did." That hasn't stopped other apologists from again pointing to the Tubesteak Messiah and claiming that a flight jacket is the same as a flight suit. This involves an amount of focused, deliberate ignorance. Or a frantic attempt to change the subject. Thankfully, Bruce Rolston offers some sanity.
There's another camp of apologists who are trying to evade the aWol issue by simply blurring the details. Bill Hobbs points to a number of sources that assert that Bush met a minimum requirement of service. But all of his sources make the same factual error, that they interpret Bush's length of service as from the time he enlisted to the time he was discharged. Most of which he was not actually physically present at either Ellington Field or in Alabama. Some of that same time period, Bush was actually working on the Senate campaign of his father's friend, Senator William Blount.
And of course Bill completely ducks the issue Bush was suspended and grounded from flying duty on verbal order of the TX 147th Group's Commanding Officer for "his failure to accomplish annual medical examination." - UggaBugga notes that "expensively trained pilots are not casually suspended" and that the "absence of a Flight Inquiry Board is of particular interest to veteran pilots. The implication is that Bush's misconduct was handled like everything else in his military service: aided and abetted by powerful family connections"
Hobbs apologises for Bush again in a later post, claiming that because Bush's unit (the 111th) was "attached" to the 147th (which did do active duty with honor in Vietnam), that there actually was a chance Bush could have been sent overseas. The 111th during Vietnam was well-known as the "Champagne Unit" here in Houston, serving as the refuge for many sons of the Texas elite, including Lloyd Bentsen III, a first lieutenant and son of the future senator and Cabinet secretary, and Capt. John Connally III, son of the former governor and Cabinet secretary. There was no chance that the 111th would have been called to active duty overseas, and the rest of Hobbs' apologia is premised on that false assertion.
Ultimately, any serious attempt at refuting the Bush AWOL story is going to have to directly address the facts, in order to be even remotely credible (in the way that apologists are not). Those facts are beautifully illustrated graphically by UggaBugga, extensively well-documented by awolbush.com, this timeline of events by Mother Jones. These posts by UggaBugga and Orcinus also make the case in sumarized form.