With the release of George A-Dubya-OL Boosh’s National Guard records once again the matter of the mnemonic capacities of Republican presidents has become an issue. Boosh seems to remember fulfilling his National Guard duties, which would have been nice give the fact that he was jumped up over some 500 others so that he could avoid Viet Nam. But nobody else seems to remember his being around the base and flying airplanes for large hunks of time when he was at an Alabama base. Boosh seems to have been licking envelopes for a Republican politician rather than licking those pesky North Vietnamese. And only one person has come forward to say that they saw him there, not a good sign for someone who has the juice that got him what may have been a “no-show” job in the first place.
All this has a disturbing déjà vu about it. Not long ago it was Mr. Reagan who couldn’t seem to remember if, and when, he was told implicating information about those illegal Iran-Contra machinations. The Gipper might, it turns out, have been in the early phases of what has turned out to be a genuine somatic basis for memory loss, although he was famous for implying that he remembered other things with his patented jibe at political opponents: “There he goes again.” At least was able to remember his lines, which, paradoxically, were “Huh? and “I don’t remember.” It was enough to get enough people to forget.
And before there was Iran-Contra there was the mother of all Republican cases of selective amnesia: Watergate. “What did Nixon know, and when did he know it.” This time there might have been something that wouldn’t forget, the Oval Office tapes (No, not ones of Mr. Bill and Ms Monica, but we don’t need them to remember such a serious breach of national security and constitutional threat). Eighteen minutes of crucial implicating tape just turned up blank this time. Fortunately, there was enough other evidence to send The Tricky One into exile to write self-exculpating books, thanks to the fact that at least Gerald Ford was able to remember what his job was—to pardon Nixon.
Boosh has neither Reagan’s medical excuse, nor Nixon’s writing abilities. He just remembers that he got paid and received an honorable discharge, proof that he might have some family political juice, but not that he actually did his Guard duty. Records have now been made public, but—and this contradicts what a retired Navy Commander friend tells me—the military penchant for keeping detailed and scrupulous records of service activity seem spotty, blank on signioficant subjects, and altogether insufficient to prove or disprove where Boosh was for months at a time. Maybe this time there are “eighteen blank” pages because there was nothing to put in them.
Such forgetfulness is an ironic trait for a party whose symbol is the elephant. Republicans need an animal that really represents lying, deceitfulness, and blaming others. Something that represents weasel ing out of things, clam ing up, and ratting on people.
©2004, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 2.15.2004)