The military experience of the candidates thirty years ago is really of no consequence to anyone except the thousand-plus soldiers who have died, their grieving families, the tens of thousands of soldiers and Guardsmen who are now in Iraq, our allies and former allies around the world, and the millions of American middle- and lower-class taxpayers who will pay the half-trillion dollar bill for the cost of Bush's apprenticeship in the art of nation-building. Notably, George W Bush failed at keeping our soldiers out of harm's way and at "democratizing" and rebuilding Iraq, but did indeed succeed at settling his family vendetta. After all, Saddam Hussein did not try to kill Kerry's dad.
Actual Guardsmen, who are paying for Bush's on-the-job training with their own blood and tears, are not amused:
Retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak said in a statement, "Until we know the truth about President Bush's service -- how he got into the Guard, how and why he neglected his duty, how and why he was not disciplined -- this issue will hang around and smell up the place."
Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner, a former CIA director under the Carter administration, said, "The president dishonored the Guard decades ago, and he dishonors them today by the way he misuses and mistreats them. He's turned our Guard and Reserve forces into a backdoor draft. . . ."
Because of the increasingly desperate situation in Iraq, one that America is now forced to face regardless of who is president, the point comes back to the fundamental questions of leadership and character in a military setting: Were Bush's Air National Guard absences and the missed physical exam due to drug use, or a mandatory sentence of community service, or what? Kerry has no absences to explain — why does Bush?
Why is it that not one of the guys Bush supposedly served with has come forward to offer personal reminiscences about his service? Kerry's did — why not Bush's?