The Slowjetting of George W. Bush

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04.09.12.DownMountain-X

Even nigh 7 years out of office and liberals and leftists cannot leave George W. Bush alone. Bush Derangement Syndrome must be an incurable lifetime dis ease.

On the heels of 2010’s “Fair Game”, Hollyweird comes out with another progressive’s fantasy, attempting to reinforce a discredited narrative. A leftist movie, made by leftists, for leftists and BDSers. Narrative recap:

Vanderbilt’s film is based on Mapes’ memoir, Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and The Privilege of Power, so it provides a very sympathetic portrait of Rather (Robert Redford, charming) and his longtime producer Mapes (Cate Blanchett, electric).

The action opens in April 2004, with the chummy team of Mapes and Rather—she calls him “Dad,” he treats her like a daughter, reminding her to eat when she’s stressed—receiving acclaim for the airing of their exclusive 60 Minutes segment detailing torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Mapes, daughter to an abusive father, is portrayed as an intrepid firebrand eager for a juicy Dubya story to follow-up the Abu Ghraib bombshell. She first looks into the bin Laden family’s ties to George H.W. Bush’s Arbusto, before setting her sights on Bush Jr.’s sketchy record in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. Mapes assembles a crack team including a colonel (Dennis Quaid), a professor (Elisabeth Moss), a researcher (Topher Grace), and Rather, assuming a hands-off role.

Then, what she calls a big piece of juicy “brisket” falls in her lap: Lt. Col. Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach), a former Texas Army National Guardsman, hands Mapes documents purportedly drafted by Bush’s commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, criticizing Bush’s service record and insinuating that he did not fulfill his 6-year commitment to the Guard.

Burkett tells Mapes he received the documents from Chief Warrant Officer George Conn of the Texas Air National Guard, who acquired them from Killian’s personal files. With all the documents in by September 4, and the piece—at Mapes’ behest—set to air on September 8, the team rushes to corroborate the claims. They interview former Lt. Gov. of Texas Ben Barnes, who claims he personally recommended Bush for the TexANG; Killian’s pal Robert Strong, who ran the TexANG administrative office and says the letters seem consistent with Killian’s beliefs; and Mapes dictates the contents of the letters by phone to General Bobby Hodges, Killian’s superior at the time, who corroborates their content. Then, they enlist the services of four document experts to examine the content of the Killian letters. One expresses doubts about the proportional spacing and superscripted “th” of the letters but says she can’t confirm without the originals, one says her findings are inconclusive, and two confirm that the signatures on the documents match Killian’s.

Unfortunately, since the original documents don’t exist there’s no way to fully authenticate the faxed docs, and with the airdate looming, there wasn’t enough time to establish a chain of custody.

The segment airs on 60 Minutes, and as soon as the gang’s done celebrating, the blogosphere erupts with claims that the Killian docs are forgeries, alleging that the spacing, font, superscript, etc. were all compatible with a document created using the current version of Microsoft Word. Mapes and Rather stand by the report, even producing follow-up segments defending the original piece, but the president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward (Bruce Greenwood), is very skeptical. His fears are stoked when Burkett admits to lying about who gave him the documents, claiming that a Hispanic woman handed them off to him.

So instead of good journalism, Rather and Mapes were agenda-driven, wanting the story to be true and wanting America to believe it to be true in order to influence and affect the outcome of a presidential election. Even CBS recognized this and rightly sacked Rather.

Here is a comment I had on the topic years ago:

 

90% of young Americans of the time, never served in Vietnam. If one wanted guaranteed avoidance of serving in combat, joining the Air National Guard as a fighter pilot would hardly be a smart move. W. Bush joined the Guard for a 6-year term. If you are drafted, you only had to serve 2 years. Pilots from the unit that he joined were being sent to Vietnam.

Letter by Col. William Campenni Ret. published in the Washington Times:

There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2½ years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and I) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren’t getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys. The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush’s tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one’s life.

From aerospaceweb:

we have established that the F-102 was serving in combat in Vietnam at the time Bush enlisted to become an F-102 pilot. In fact, pilots from the 147th FIG of the Texas ANG were routinely rotated to Vietnam for combat duty under a program called ”Palace Alert” from 1968 to 1970. Palace Alert was an Air Force program that sent qualified F-102 pilots from the ANG to bases in Europe or southeast Asia for periods of three to six months for frontline duty.

Fred Bradley, a friend of Bush’s who was also serving in the Texas ANG, reported that he and Bush inquired about participating in the Palace Alert program. However, the two were told by a superior, MAJ Maurice Udell, that they were not yet qualified since they were still in training and did not have the 500 hours of flight experience required. Furthermore, ANG veteran COL William Campenni, who was a fellow pilot in the 111th FIS at the time, told the Washington Times that Palace Alert was winding down and not accepting new applicants.

As he was completing training and being certified as a qualified F-102 pilot, Bush’s squadron was a likely candidate to be rotated to Vietnam. However, the F-102 was built for a type of air combat that wasn’t seen during that conflict, and the plane was withdrawn from southeast Asia in December 1969. The F-102 was instead returned to its primary role of providing air defense for the United States. In addition, the mission of Ellington AFB, where Bush was stationed, was also changing from air defense alert to training all F-102 pilots in the US for Air National Guard duty. Lt. Bush remained in the ANG as a certified F-102 pilot who participated in frequent drills and alerts through April of 1972. … By this time, the 147th Fighter Wing was also beginning to transition from the F-102 to the F-101F, an updated version of the F-101B used primarily for air defense patrols. Furthermore, the war in Vietnam was nearing its end and the US was withdrawing its forces from the theater. Air Force personnel returning to the US created a glut of active-duty pilots, and there were not enough aircraft available to accommodate all of the qualified USAF and ANG pilots. Since USAF personnel had priority for the billets available, many of the Air National Guard pilots whose enlistments were nearly complete requested early release. The ANG was eager to fulfill these requests because there was not enough time to retrain F-102 pilots to operate new aircraft before their enlistments were up anyway. Bush was one of those forced out by the transition, and he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant in October 1973, eight months before his six-year enlistment was complete. Bush had approximately 600 flight hours by the time he completed his military service.

~~~

While Bush did not see combat in Vietnam, it is also obvious that he was not seeking a way to avoid the risk of being sent to Vietnam. At the time he was training to be an F102 pilot, ANG units and that aircraft type were based in Vietnam.

 

Back to Daily Yeast:

In one chilling sequence, Mapes is seen browsing conservative websites online, with trolls branding her a “feminazi” and “ugly,” and one anonymous poster writing, “I’m picturing Sean Hannity sharpening his knife to gut this witch.”

Oh, the horror! Just go take a gander at Daily Kos right now to see what they’re thinking and writing about Dick Cheney this past weekend.

The devil is in the details, as they say, and though the documents themselves may be falsified, both Mapes and Rather view them as more a piece of corroborative evidence, and continue to believe in the general veracity of the story—which isn’t questioned.

To quothe Dan Rather: “Fake but accurate”.

Mapes is seen as a victim in all this—both of Burkett’s ruse and of the CBS brass, who throw her directly under the bus. The film’s finest scene sees Blanchett deliver a blistering monologue to the Thornburgh review panel detailing how difficult it would be to and how much inside information would be required to falsify the Killian documents.

And Rather, generally shown to be a charming, loyal, and caring man with paternal love for Mapes—and a bit of a whiskey addiction—is let off the hook, merely going with the flow and doing what Mapes tells him. At the end of the film, after her firing and Rather’s forced retirement, she asks him, “Why didn’t you ask me if the documents are real?” He tenderly replies, “Because I knew I didn’t need to.”

Oh em gee! Who writes this stuff? Oh, yeah…

In a 2007 interview with Larry King, Rather claimed “he played largely a supervisory role” in the Bush segment, that the review panel was “a set-up,” and that “Nobody to this day has proved these documents were fraudulent… The story was true.”

Yes, put out a hitpiece without vetting it for truth and accuracy; then ask others to prove it’s false. Outstanding journalistic integrity!

“Truth” sounds fake and anything but accurate in its revisionist history attempting to rationalize sloppy, politically agenda-driven yellow journalism. Mapes and Rather are the worst kinds of producer/journalists: Political propagandists under the guise of journalism.

And this is just so rich:

After the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Rather choked up discussing Truth in a post-screening Q&A. He called Vanderbilt’s film “very accurate,” and, when asked by an audience member if there’s anything in his career he would have done differently, he replied, “Journalism is not an exact science.”

At first I thought the Daily Beast article was going to be a favorable movie review; but now I’m not so sure.

Frontpage Magazine:

Modern lefty media journalism is more interested in narratives than in facts. The specific facts of a case may be fake, but that doesn’t matter as long as the narrative is accurate.

It had always felt compellingly true to them that President Bush dodged military service or otherwise benefited from undue influence. It was the perfect finishing touch for their arguments against the Iraq War. It made their position the righteous and patriotic one. It was the perfect note on which to begin the rise of President Kerry. It was so emotionally and ideologically compelling that it had to be true.

It might not have been factually true, but it was emotionally true, and narratives are not about factual truths. They are about emotional truths.

Oh yeah, and btw: George W. Bush also stole an election.

17 Responses to “The Slowjetting of George W. Bush”

  1. 1

    another vet

    The left will take all of this crap as gospel just like Fahrenheit 911 because they live in a fantasy land devoid of reality. I was mobilized and sent to hostile fire zones 4 times in my 30 years as an Army Reservist so when these left wingers, the majority of whom never came close to wearing the uniform, go out and demean “Weekend Warriors” they can kiss my red blooded American ass. I knew enough who never made it made back from Iraq whose sacrifices are demeaned by these lefties’ insinuations to where these armchair know-it-alls are scum in my book.

  2. 2

    Bill

    In a segment on O’Reilly some time back, Benie Goldberg revealed that CBS had the documents that stated that Bush had volunteered for service in Vietnam but was denied due to not having the required flight hours. This tidbit, of course, was ignored by the left wing “journalists”, possibly having the ink smeared by their salivating all over it out of desire for the “dodging” story to be true.

    Keep in mind, this is the same industry that totally ignored Bill Clinton avoiding military service, running off to Cambridge, and stating in a letter how he “loathed” the military (no doubt Hillary would not disagree). They have also largely ignored Obama’s failures, his culpability in creating the ISIS and refugee crisis’ (which will eventually lead to terrorism crisis’ in the nations that accept them). Currently, they are running interference for Hillary and her purposeful and illegal mishandling of sensitive intelligence documents.

    They cover up the misdeeds of liberals while they manufacture the “evidence” of Republican misdeeds. What further proof do we need?

  3. 6

    John

    The last F102s came back from VietNam the year Bush enlisted. By the time he soloed in one it had been 2 full years since any were in VietNam
    As for volunteering for combat flying in Vietnam Bush either already knew that he wasn’t going to be accepted having only about 30% of the required 1000 flight hours, or he was an idiot.
    Anyone think that Bush will be invited to the GOP Convention? He had “scheduling” conflicts for the last 2 Anyone think that his lack of an invitation is due to “leftists”?
    The Dem would LOVE to have him at their Convention it would virtually assure their winning to remind Americans of his Presidency

  4. 7

    Nanny G

    While we were in the middle of a pretty hot ”Cold War” especially near Cuba, Bush flew sorties protecting our air space.
    That’s pretty cool as far as I’m concerned.
    I had a brother underwater in a nuclear sub near Cuba for over 4 years.
    A lot we never heard about was going on what with the USSR trying to sneak stuff into Cuba.
    Bush and my bro as well as a whole lot of others who were not in Vietnam protected our country.

    And lest we forget:
    The Dan Rather 1970’s ”memo” with modern Word Roman Times superimposed over it, throbbing:
    https://diaryofdaedalus.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bushdoc.gif

  5. 8

    retire05

    Wordsmith, you left out two very important names in this story: Ronnie Earle and Robin Rather, Dan Rather’s daughter.

    Earle was the Travis County District Attorney and close (very close) friends with Robin Rather. Earle, a radical left winger, wanted to have Dan Rather be the key-note speaker at the Travis County Democratic Party convention and Robin Rather was more than happy to facilitate that for Earle.

    Earle was a radical who made it his life’s work to sue Texas politicians. He sued Kay Bailey Hutchison, and lost, along with dragging Tom DeLay through the court system for years until he got a conviction. That conviction was eventually overturned by the Texas Supreme Count. Earle also sued Bob Bullock, to no avail. Bullock was a Democrat.

    The whole sorted scandal was cooked up by Earle and Robin Rather. Earle claimed to have a source (Lucy Ramirez) who would meet up with someone at the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo which is always held in March. The story then broke on Dan Rather’s show weeks later.

    Mapes was nothing more than Rather’s scapegoat. Anyone who has been involved in network news can tell you that Rather, the network’s golden boy, had total control over what was reported on his show. Do I feel sorry for Mapes? Nope, she knew that Rather was a cut throat that was interested in two things; smearing a sitting Republican president and his own career.

    Earle finally retired and his protégé, Rosemary Lehmberg, became the DA. She is the drunken DA that made national news when she was arrested for a DWI in Austin and was so abusive toward the police although she could barely stand at the time of the arrest. She is also now the one who has brought charges against Rick Perry saying he violated Texas law when he threatened to veto the budget for the Ethics department Lehmberg heads. (Texas state law rules that any elected official arrest and convicted of a DWI can be impeached on those charges alone, which she should have been). Texas law gives a governor the right to defund any agency.

    So, two of the most important names in the story are blatantly missing. The whole faux scandal started in the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

  6. 9

    David

    @john #6 –

    From the same aerospaceweb article cited by Wordsmith, you will also read the following:

    ” … pilots from the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group (Texas ANG), as it was called at the time, were actually conducting combat missions in Vietnam when Bush enlisted (in 1968). Air Force F-102 squadrons had been stationed in Thailand since 1961 and South Vietnam since March 1962. It was during this time that the Kennedy administration began building up a large US military presence in the region as a deterrent against North Vietnamese invasion.

    USAF F-102 squadrons continued to be stationed in both nations throughout most of the Vietnam War. The Delta Dagger was based at Tan Son Nhut, Bien Hoa, and Da Nang in South Vietnam and also stood alert at Don Muang and Udorn in Thailand. The planes were typically used for fighter defense patrols and as escorts for B-52 bomber raids. The F-102 was considered one of the most useful air defense aircraft in theater because it had the fastest response time of any fighter stationed in South Vietnam.

    Since North Vietnamese pilots generally avoided combat with their American counterparts, the F-102 had few opportunities to engage in its primary role of air combat. However, the Deuce was adapted for close air support starting in 1965. Delta Daggers armed with unguided rockets made attacks on Viet Cong encampments to harass enemy soldiers, and the aircraft’s heat-seeking air-to-air missiles were even used to lock onto enemy campfires at night. Though the F-102 had not been designed for this type of combat, the plane was surprisingly effective and pilots often reported secondary explosions coming from their targets. An Aviation Week article of the period credited the 509th FIS, an F-102 squadron stationed in Vietnam, with destroying 106 buildings, damaging 59 more, sinking 16 sampans, and destroying one bridge during 199 sorties over the course of 45 days. The manufacturer Convair proposed a series of upgrades to build upon these promising results and further improve the design’s ground attack capabilities, but the concept was dropped due to Air Force funding constraints.”

    You may want to reconsider your facts about the F-102 in Vietnam.

    Also, the F-102 had the reputation as being a “widow-maker”. It was a difficult plane to control at times. They lost as many in training missions as they did in patrol operations.

  7. 11

    another vet

    @David:

    You may want to reconsider your facts about the F-102 in Vietnam.

    Facts don’t matter to those on the left. Only their opinions matter which are based on everything but facts.

  8. 13

    mike191

    John, is it not ironic, that your post proves the validity of the article. You are like that paramecium in the bell jar .That when it is dark you remain docile. When the lights come on it is bedlam.{BDS Syndrome}

  9. 15

    Redteam

    @Wordsmith: Yea, but he was only there because the plane he was in was fired on and had to land there where Bush was in the process of going AWOL. He even had to keep his head down while running into the terminal.

  10. 17

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Truthiness:

    Dan Rather and his producer are portrayed as heroes by Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett. However, their real-life reporting failures show journalism at its shoddiest.

    In Truth, Robert Redford portrays CBS anchor Dan Rather at the worst moment of his storied career, when Rather and his trusted producer, Mary Mapes—lashed together in a political hurricane two months before the 2004 presidential election—struggled to defend a catastrophically flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday segment concerning George W. Bush’s questionable stint in the Texas Air National Guard.

    ~~~

    Rather hung on at CBS for more than a year after leaving the anchor desk, miserably trying and failing to get on air; he finally quit in a blaze of negative publicity, spending millions of dollars suing the company unsuccessfully for a variety of transgressions, especially the so-called “independent review”—co-chaired by a Republican who was appointed attorney general by the first President Bush—that Rather continues to claim was a politically motivated hit job.

    Boccardi, for one, staunchly defends the panel’s detailed report—224 pages plus exhibits—that blamed the debacle on “a rush to air that overwhelmed the proper application of CBS News Standards…Everyone involved wanted the Segment to be right. But in journalism, no less than in other fields, wanting is not enough.”

    Boccardi told me: “Imagine that when you were a cub reporter, as a kid, you told your city editor, ‘Look, boss, I know it’s true. I just don’t know where it came from. I can’t verify the documents. But I know that Bush was a draft dodger.’ Now what city editor is going to take that and try to slam it in the paper? That just doesn’t happen.”

    Meanwhile, one detects the fine hand of Gil Schwartz in CBS’s official response to the movie: “It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’ There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all.

    “The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”

    In scene after scene of the screenplay for Truth, written and directed by James Vanderbilt, Rather, Mapes, and their CBS News colleagues continually take leaps of faith more appropriate to a religion than the reporting trade, whose skeptical catchphrase has always been, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

    Mapes—whose work on the Bush/Guard story four years earlier, during the 2000 presidential campaign, had abruptly ceased with the death of her mother (making the election of Al Gore far less likely, one of the characters in Truth argues)—is clearly invested in a narrative in which the future commander in chief, at the height of Vietnam War draft, benefited from political connections and string-pulling to get into a “champagne unit” of the Guard, populated by other sons of privilege, and thus avoided being shipped to Southeast Asia.

    Yet many of young Dubya’s fellow Yale graduates had discovered any number of less complicated methods, including the sort of student deferments repeatedly utilized by Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, to circumvent the draft.

    While the power and influence of Bush’s family might indeed have been the “truth” of the matter—and other mainstream media outlets going back at least to July 1999 had investigated the circumstances of his Texas Air National Guard service—hard facts would be required to get such a damaging story on a broadcast television network amid a presidential contest.

    In the film, Mapes sweet-talks former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes into going on camera to repeat his claim that it was he who arranged for Bush’s cushy billet.

    Mapes, the character, credits every piece of evidence suggesting that young George was jumped to the head of a waiting list for the air guard unit, while shirking his pilot-training duties, receiving special treatment from higher-ups and going AWOL without consequence—obtaining an early release from his military obligations to attend Harvard Business School.

    And she dismisses every contradictory bit of evidence —including a series of phone conversations, depicted in the movie, in which several of Bush’s former Guard comrades and supervisors insist over and over that “no strings were pulled.”

    Much of journalism involves judgment calls, of course, and Mapes and Rather are certainly within their rights to have believed a former elected official willing to go on camera, like Barnes, over skittish retired Guard officers who nervously fielded questions before hanging up.

    But with a five-day deadline to report and film interviews and make a Sept. 8, 2004 air-date—a foolishly risky rush-job, the film makes clear, considering the colossally high stakes of such a report—Mapes receives a tip that a retired air guard colonel possessed a collection of damning documents, supposedly internal memos taken from the file of young Bush’s commanding officer, exposing the inadequacies of the future president’s military service.

    She flies to Texas to coax the memos out of her source, retired lieutenant colonel Bill Burkett, a sick old man who breathes with the aid of an oxygen tank. He initially lies to her about the origins of the memos.

    Then—later on, after the 60 Minutes Wednesday segment was falling apart amid fierce criticism from conservative bloggers and rival media outlets as the documents proved to be deeply problematic if not outright forgeries—Burkett spins a crazy yarn in a televised interview with Rather about how he acquired the memos from a dark-skinned mystery man at a livestock show.

    To the filmmakers’ credit, Truth makes little effort to pretend that Mapes and Rather didn’t fall short on their facts, but the movie attempts to excuse these missteps on the grounds that they were well-intentioned; they might have administered a grievous self-inflicted wound and tarnished the reputation of CBS News, but at least their heart was in the right place.

    “Of course we made mistakes,” Rather conceded last week during a TimesTalks panel discussion about the film featuring Redford, Blanchett and Mapes, although he said that despite his long-ago on-air apology, he now believes the documents are authentic. “Journalism is not a precise science. It’s sort of a crude art. If the test is, you don’t run a story until and unless you don’t make mistakes…then very little quality journalism of integrity will be filed. The fact that we made mistakes, and didn’t do it perfectly, shouldn’t obscure the fact that we reported the truth.”

    Mapes observed: “I think there was a tremendously strong perception that we bungled, bungled, bungled very badly. And I think we were in the normal journalistic range of bungle.”

    A resident of Dallas, she said she continues to believe Bush used family connections to avoid the draft and received privileged treatment in the Texas Air National Guard.

    “I guess, living in Texas, it is accepted fact that this is what happened, and everyone knows this,” she declared.

    It reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s satirical standard of human knowledge from his old Comedy Central show—that truth is to be found “in the gut,” defined by feelings, not facts.

    Perhaps a better title for this movie would be Truthiness.

    If your mother says she loves you, trust but verify.

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