Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 13, 2004
POLITICS: Drum Punts, Kleiman Dodges, Willis Whiffs
So, yesterday I had 14 questions for Kevin Drum to answer if he expects us to continue taking him seriously on the "Bush was AWOL!!!!!!" charge. I also mentioned Mark Kleiman as one of the prominent bloggers flogging this story (and emailed him the link), and threw in Oliver Willis as well. Let's track the responses:
*Kleiman, to his credit, emailed back his response quickly and then posted it on his blog. However, his response basically dodges all of my questions and instead focuses on things we don't know. You can go there and judge for yourself. My response: Yes, I'm aware of Phil Carter, but he hasn't dealt with a lot of these points either. An obvious answer on the "why nobody remembers" thing is that Bush was just marking time, and most likely wasn't doing much to attract attention. If I'd become the most famous man in America by now, it's still unlikely that the people in my bar review class 8 years ago would remember me, notwithstanding the fact that there were only about 6 of us.
§ 432.131. Absence Without Leave
The problem is, Kleiman never gives any explanation of why he believes Bush was "required to be" in any particular place at any particular "time prescribed." It's also pretty lame that Kleiman attacks my criticisms on his blog without providing a link; that's just bad form. Blogs are supposed to be open to a give-and-take that presumes you have enough confidence in your position to let your readers hear the other side and respond. (Kleiman also insisted that his site's failure to accept trackbacks from my site and some other conservative sites is due to a technical problem he hasn't been able to fix . . . I take him at his word, but a better trackback feature might hold him a bit more accountable for his writings).
*Maybe Drum will address the questions later, but his initial response was to issue a non-denial denial, basically admitting that there's nothing to this story but arguing that Bush should nonetheless be compelled to keep answering questions about it. Um, remind me not to listen to Kevin complain about anything that was done to Clinton . . . on my Question #2, about eyewitness testimony, Drum provides a mixed answer: on the one hand, he's still pushing the statement by Col. Turnipseed even after he's come right out and said that he was misquoted and not in a position to comment. That's just sleazy. On the other hand, Drum points to a new report about some guys who do appear to have a basis for saying they expected to work with Bush in Alabama and never saw him. This is the first thing I've seen that looks like halfway decent evidence, although I'll have to digest this a bit before I pass judgment on their credibility. But bear in mind that these guys are talking about events more than 30 years ago, and they didn't come forward 4 years ago when this story broke. Like I said, we shall see.
*Willis just ignores me. Par for the course.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis, in comments, says I've overstated his interest in this story and that he didn't even notice my trackback.