Thursday, September 09, 2004

Howard Kurtz Misses Again

Kurtz' column today, Excavating Bush's Past, starts out with this:

After a month of media digging and regurgitation of who did what to whom on the Bay Hap River in 1969, we are now deep into what George Bush did or didn't do as a younger man.

Sorry, Howie. Sorry you actually have to put up with all this fun mud-slinging nonsense. Sorry that we are so busy re-examining trivial events from Bush's past as 'a younger man.' Sorry. Of course, if you'd done your job during the 2000 campaign, maybe we wouldn't have to go through this yet again. But, sorry.

Kurtz continues:

On one front: Taking a page from the swifties, a group called Texans for Truth is airing a spot questioning Bush's National Guard service. But in a conference call, the former Alabama guardsman who appears in the ad, Bob Mintz, was less than convincing about how he could be sure that W. had not shown up over the course of a year. Mintz said he reported for duty only 60 to 80 days a year and did not have the exact dates.

I have several problems with this passage. First, Mintz never claims that he is 'sure' that Bush didn't show up for duty over the course of that year. Mintz simply claims that he never saw Bush during Mintz' time on base, period. He is sure that he didn't see Bush. Is that so difficult to understand? Could Bush have shown up on every other odd Tuesday in between the hours of 2 am and 5:30 am? Sure. Likely? Of course not. I don't mind Kurtz trying to get to the facts, but to outright dismiss Mintz because he hasn't brought reams of documentary evidence to the table is outrageous, especially in light of how much play the Swifties garnered, even while they continued to be proven liars, time and again. Do your homework, Kurtz.

Next, Kurtz wants us to believe that 60 to 80 days is chump change. It would be if Mintz and Bush were full-time enlisted men, but they were not, they were guardsmen - so they served on a part-time basis. My guess is that most of their time would have been served during weekends - excepting for the full two-week period.

Going by the old guard adage, "one weekend a month, two weeks a year," Bush and Mintz would have been required to serve a minimum of 38 days for the entire year (12 months at 2 days per, plus 14 days). If Mintz and Bush served at the same time, they would surely have seen each other. And even if by some miracle Mintz did not witness the young Mr. Bush in the flesh, Mintz would certainly have heard about Bush's time spent on base because Bush was a known celebrity - the son of a big-wig. Celebrities are like that - their reputations precede and follow them. Is this Kurtz once again dismissing Mintz' story because Kurtz is just too lazy to do even the most basic analysis?

Finally, Kurtz tells us that Mintz did not have the exact dates of his service. So? If it's important to you, Kurtz, look it up. Don't call the guy a liar without evidence. Fact-checking - it's your job, after all. We know he probably served a bunch of weekends, and one two-week period. If you asked for his attendance records I'm sure he'd provide them to you, or give you permission to seek them from the appropriate authorities. I realize Kurtz was doing more of a blogger-style piece, here, but why cast aspersions on Mintz' story without reason? I mean, does not remembering the exact dates you served 30 years ago indicate duplicity, a la Bush? C'mon.

Of course, Kurtz is all wrapped around himself, enthralled at being a big media reporter who is just so amused by all the senseless, trivial mud-slinging that he can hardly bring himself to see what's going on right in front of his eyes.

Fortunately for us regular folk, Kurtz' colleague, Dan Froomkin, points out the obvious:

Back in February, the White House assured everyone that all the existing, relevant documents about President Bush's disputed National Guard service had been made public.

But just in the past two days, several new documents have emerged -- as have new, intensive examinations of the record.

How many times now has Bush said he released all of his records? 5? 6? 10?

Bush is lying. The White House is lying. Dan Bartlett is lying. The Bush Campaign is lying. They've all been lying. And they'll continue to lie as long as self-congratulatory reporters like Kurtz continue to let them get away with it. Whatever way you want to say it, Mr. Bush is a liar - in the very recent past - plain and simple. And that should matter very much to Mr. Kurtz, because it matters very much to voters.

Too bad Howard Kurtz is too enamored with himself to do his job correctly.

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