Lost in the furor over Memogate is the fact that the Defense Department discovered a handful of additional documents on President Bush’s National Guard service and released them yesterday. I haven’t yet seen copies of the documents, which number around a dozen, but the Associated Press’s Matt Kelley has this account:
The latest records to surface from President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard show that one commander took an unusual interest in the congressman’s son during his basic training.
The officer in charge of the unit where Bush took his basic training wrote to then-Rep. George H.W. Bush in 1968. The officer’s letter was not released Friday, but the elder Bush’s reply was: “That a major general in the Air Force would take interest in a brand new Air Force trainee made a big impression on me.”
Bush, who was elected president 20 years later, wrote that his son “will be a gung-ho member” of the Air Force, and its instructors had “helped awaken the very best instincts in my son.”
Democrats called the exchange proof of preferential treatment.
Actually, the fact that Major General G. B. Greene wrote Bush’s father to tell him that his son George W. was doing a fine job in the Guard would most naturally be construed to indicate that George W. was doing a fine job in the Guard.
But obsessions are hard to let go of. Here is how Terry McAuliffe tried to put the new documents in a negative light:
The Democratic National Committee said that releasing the documents at the end of the work week showed Bush had something to hide.
“If the president was truly proud of his service he wouldn’t be releasing these documents on a Friday night,” DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.
Somehow I don’t think the average voter will be impressed by that argument.
The new documents don’t appear to contain much of significance, at least as far as one can tell from the AP’s account, but they do include two that relate to President Bush’s service in Texas in 1973, where he made up some meetings that he had missed while he was in Alabama working on a Senate campaign. Without having seen the documents, they would appear to support that longstanding contention by the President. Not that, at this point, anyone cares very much.