In what is surely going to be fodder for months to come, President Bush responded to a briefing on the difficulties faced in Afghanistan by saying that he is envious of those able to be on the front lines. Given the controversy of his perceived avoidance of combat in Vietnam, it seems a rather curious and belated lust for battle.
Bush’s statement came in a videconference from military and civilian personnel on the front lines. His response was perfectly clueless: “I must say, I’m a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. . . . It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks.”
The elder Bush appears far more eager to encounter the front lines than he was as a younger man. Bush signed documents twice that pledged that he would meet training commitments or face immediate active duty. He failed to fulfill both pledges.
Indeed, shortly before his deferment was to expire, Bush seemed to get special treatment in getting into the National Guard and on his application, Bush checked the box which read, “Do not volunteer for overseas service.” At the time, 350 Americans were dying each day in Vietnam.
Bush seemed to take the same view as Dick Cheney when asked about his avoidance of combat: “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.”