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Monday, September 01, 2003

Dubya and deep history

Kevin Drum at CalPundit is one of my favorite left-of-center daily or near-daily reads.  He posted two things today that I found interesting.

First, in the course of writing about whether it's insulting to refer to our current President as "Mr. Bush" instead of "President Bush," and if so whether it's justified by the use of "Mr. Clinton" to refer to his predecessor from 1993-2001, Mr. Drum ends by writing:

... For the record, I have never referred to our commander in chief as Mr. Bush. I prefer Dubya. 

And yes, it's an obvious display of disrespect.

This tickled me, because I also often call our President by the nickname "Dubya," both here and in casual conversation — but for me, it's an obvious display of affection, and simply a more appealing way of distinguishing him from his father than the 41/43 numerical method or the GHWB/GWB initials method. By contrast, Molly Ivans' use of the nickname "Shrub" is an obvious display of disrespect.

Later, Mr. Drum wrote to discourage bloggers and those in the mainstream media who are focused on "obviously invented nonsense" in the California recall campaign and elsewhere:

I'd like to propose a new rule for political campaigns, sort of a Geneva Convention of politics: anything that happened more than 20 years ago or before the age of 25 is off limits. That goes double for anything that happened while someone was a university student.

My first inclination is to agree.  But then again, I remember that the child is father to the man.  It reveals something of Cruz Bustamante's current character, for instance, that (as Tacitus has blogged) he has been evasive and equivocal in disavowing the more radical and racist aspects of the MEChA organization; if he'd done so sincerely and immediately when the subject was first raised, I'd tend to agree that it's thereafter pretty much irrelevant.  Likewise, if Bill Clinton had admitted inhaling at Oxford, it should have been a non-issue; the only reason it was at all relevant by the time he was running for president was that it illustrated his willingness to lie (and his inability to gauge which lies are convincing and which are simply incredible).

In the California recall campaign, I'd say it's also fair game for someone to ask Ahh-nuld if he actually made the comments about blacks attributed to him on Drudge, and if so whether he repudiates them now.  If he says "I made those comments but I repudiate them; it was a stupid and immature thing to say, and I know better now," that should be the end of it; but if he doesn't, then yes, that would be a legitimate issue for today. 

And some matters — I personally would put Clinton's draft evasion in this category, and yes, Dubya's Texas Air National Guard service — are so fundamentally important indicators of character that there just ought not be a statute of limitations on them, at least when we're discussing presidential candidates.

(Aside:  Anyone who thinks the service records of those two men are comparable is absolutely clueless.  At the time Dubya flew jet interceptors in the Texas National Guard, those were essentially jet engines with some stubby fins and a single-seat cockpit attached, and simply taking off, patrolling, and landing in one put your life at serious risk.  Volunteering for state air national guard service could have easily have resulted in Bush flying over the Gulf of Tonkin as the Gulf of Mexico in those days, just as it could result in flying over Baghdad today.  Dubya isn't, and never claims to have been, the war hero his father was; but sweeping the skies for Russian Bear Bombers in the mid-60s, when the Cuban Missile Crisis was still a hot memory and the Cold War was pretty damned warm, wasn't nothing, and it's incredibly different than lying to get an undeserved draft deferment for an ROTC program you never attended.)

Posted by Beldar at 10:37 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

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