Bush’s Year Off from the National Guard

When George W. Bush candidacy for president was first announced, I found it a bit bizarre. Knowing a little bit about his history, I found him a strange mixture of Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle.

Like Clinton he had skeletons in his past. Unlike Clinton, the skeletons were of substance abuse (alchohol and possibly also cocaine) rather than sex. Like Clinton he claimed that they were in the past. Unlike Clinton, the alchoholism appears to actually be in the past.

This is a good thing for him. America likes a reformed sinner.

Unfortunately for him, he also had the military record of Dan Quayle. Son of an influential family, he was able to serve in the National Guard rather than go to Vietnam. Not only that, while Quayle apparently actually showed up for duty, Bush may have taken a year off without leave (or punishment).

I was slightly (but not entirely) surprised that people didn’t make a big deal out of it. Gore’s record was only slightly better. Unlike Bush he volunteered to serve in Vietnam, but similar to Bush (Gore’s father was a senator) he wasn’t assigned to exceptionally dangerous duty.

Kerry’s record contrasts wildly with Bush’s. Despite being from an influential family he went to Vietnam, served heroically, came home and then protested the war.

I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot about Bush’s military record this time around. If the charges are true, he definitely deserves to take the heat.

I hope that Bush’s opponents will have more to say than just that, however. I much prefer a positive vision for a presidency than a vision limited to beating the other candidate.

UPDATE: I particularly like this perspective on how willing people are to attack or defend Bush on this topic without bothering to ask, “What is the likelihood of this charge being true?”


Electability is supposedly a factor in how people are voting in the Democratic primaries this year.

I’m not sure precisely how people determine that and I’m not sure that they know either. Bearing in mind that most people aren’t pollsters, campaign managers or political analysts, they don’t really know what makes a person electable in the first place–not that the professionals know either. The professionals can just make a more educated guess.

As such, I’m going to guess that for most people electability is a mixture of two basic approaches.

Approach 1: Analysis based on a list of personal criteria for electability based on what they’ve heard about a candidate in the media. Examples: So and so’s too liberal to be elected. So and so makes too many gaffes. So and so has better credibility about war because of his military record than Bush…

Approach 2: Assuption of electability based on what the candidate is currently doing in the polls/primaries. Example: Kerry’s winning–I’ll vote for him.

Neither really seem particularly wonderful to me. A mixture of the two doesn’t excite me either. I’m hoping that certain amount of “Approach 3″ is in the mix. Approach 3 would be liking the candidate’s views, having some confidence in his character, and believing he’d be a good and effective leader.

According to a questionnaire that matches views that Ed pointed out, I should therefore be voting either for Dean or Clark. I should most definitely not be voting for the Constitution Party’s candidate, Bush, or the Libertarian Party’s candidate.

I’d kind of suspected something like that. Alas, none of the candidates match my views particularly closely. That’s the bad thing about being a moderate, you’ve got a lot in common with a lot of people, but not really enough to get excited.

US News & World Report

Is US News & World Report a magazine with a basically conservative perspective?

I’m not complaining, just curious. Owing to the fact that my dad teaches political science, he subscribes to Newsweek, Time, US News & World Report and a number of other magazines.

Newsweek seems to tilt left, Time to the right, and I’m wondering where US News fits in. I happened to be at my parents’ house for supper on Sunday and read a couple articles that seemed interesting. One was a respectful (but not entirely favorable) profile of John Ashcroft. The other was a piece desribing the electoral drift of the country since 2000.

The piece argued that since 2000, the states in the south (and some outside the south) had grown more Republican, making it very hard for a Democrat to win the presidency. It also included techniques the Republicans were using to encourage this tendency.

I asked my Dad what he thought of it and he commented that the article did not include some other states drift toward the left (Maine, for example) that has also been documented.

This left me wondering what the deal was. Was the reporter ignorant? Does the reporter lean left and project his fears into his article? Or does the reporter lean right and project his hopes onto the facts?

I can’t tell you which is true, but, bearing in mind that article about Ashcroft seemed more favorable than unfavorable, I’m going to guess that US News tilts right.

Alternately, it could be that both articles are just true to the best of the writers’ knowlege and I’m putting too much analysis into this.

International Wedding Absurdities

Before the destruction of the World Trade Center Canadians and US citizens could freely cross the border without much bother. After 9/11, the US stopped allowing Canadians special treatment. In response, Canada stopped allowing US citizens special treatment.

What does that have to do with my life? On Saturday night, one of Kristen’s friends married a nice guy who happens to be Canadian. Owing to the sheer hassle, only 5 members of his family could attend the wedding–his parents and an uncle, aunt and cousin.

Wierder yet, the wedding only took place due to bureaucratic changes in the visa program.

Originally they’d been planning to marry in April. Unfortunately, the visa they applied for had been changed. The Canadian government now only allows same sex couples to get married while using that visa.

So they got married yesterday (in a bit of a rush) and have applied for the other available visa. This one allows spousal visits. This should allow the reception in April to work out–assuming the Canadian government believes that they really got married. They were told to take a lot of pictures (from every possible angle) to show that they weren’t faking it for immigration purposes.

They passed out disposable cameras to the crowd to ensure that they had enough proof. Hopefully the constant glare of camera flashes doesn’t damage to the eye. If it did, they should be blind by now.

Amusingly, they might have been able to use the same sex marriage visa after all. Apparently Kristen’s friend has 2 birth certificates. One of them, (owing to bureacratic error) shows her to be male.

Twisted, eh?

Dean’s Scream

Mid-afternoon yesterday my daughter Rebecca (age 19 months) said something that we hadn’t anticipated. Kristen and I were talking about Dean’s much repeated speech to his volunteers. The one that included the yelp heard round the world (I heard it on the BBC about an hour after hearing it on NPR).

In particular we were talking about dance mixes of the speech, sometimes quoting it and laughing. “…And Michigan,” we said. “And then we’re going to Washington D.C. to take back the Whitehouse!” we said.

“Yeagh!” we said.

“Yeagh!’ Rebecca said.

It was then that I decided the media was probably paying too much attention to this.

Howard Dean’s “I have a Scream” speech

In the end, all I can say is “huh.”

On Monday I listened to the Iowa caucus results. I was amused to listen to the original as NPR played (I assume) live coverage. I thought it was odd that he gave a little bit of a yelp after giving a fairly standard rally the troops sort of speech.

Listening to NPR’s “All Things Considered” later, I discovered that the yelp is the talk of the net.

When the commentor referred to it as the “I have a Scream” speech, I was slowing for a stop light and might have literally died laughing (or at least plowed into a car) if I were just a bit less careful.

The phrase still makes me giggle.

Anyway, while I’m at it, here’s a remix or two:
Jonathon Barlow’s
James Lilek’s

It would be interesting to know why people care about it at all. Personally I just find it funny and, unlike some, I bear no ill will toward the candidate. I’ve got to admit, however, that I can’t really call myself a supporter.

I’m just an observer for the moment.