Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You'll be relieved to know that the controversy over Dubya's guard service is finally over. That's right -- the Air Force Times may still be reporting that Dubya's promising start as a pilot faded into mystery, but last week, Dean Esmay said here that "ABC News aired a special report that completely refuted all the negative claims about Bush's National Guard service."

Kerry supporters might quibble that the interviewee -- Walter Staudt, the politically connected retired Texas Guard officer that inducted Bush into the guard -- can't speak with any authority about Dubya's unexplained absences when he was supposed to be attending drills in Alabama and Massachusetts. But there's no shortage of wingers, like those in Esmay's comments to explain that even though Bush signed a document (which is in the package released months ago by the White House) promising to find a Massachusetts Guard unit, and then never did, that's OK -- because the war was over, and actually showing up for military service is somehow optional, at least for privileged Senators' grandsons from Connecticut, unless there's a war actually on. So even if something truly nuclear turned up later -- even if, say, all the document experts who critiqued Bill Burkett's faked memos somehow showed up in chorus saying that the records released by the White House were also faked to cover a dishonorable discharge -- none of that would be likely to make much of an impression on Esmay, who not only in this, but in many other things has shown himself nearly impervious to facts that don't fit his politics.

And that, in turn, makes it awfully hard to argue with these guys. The post below was deliberately constructed as an attempt to construct an argument that might break through -- not so much by countering the claims of Dubya's supporters with facts (there's frankly too much of that up top, given the audience), as by countering his emotional appeal. (And also avoiding the Guard issue, which is tactically a loser right now thanks to Dan Rather's screwups, whatever the facts). This, though, is obviously not the right place to put any such thing. And I'm personally a bit reluctant to start doling out pieces of it in comment sections to related posts on right-wing blogs; it would feel too much like being a left-wing troll. It's turnabout -- but is it fair play?


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