It is a testament to the dignity of George Bush the Elder that in 1992, he refused to make endless fun of the draft shenanigans of Bill Clinton, who skipped off to Oxford after he received his draft notice to blab endlessly about politics and play strip poker with the lasses.
But he should have said something serious about it. Bush's campaign was so devoid of red meat on Clinton's military deficiencies that it was almost vegetarian in its fear of liberal media pounding.
Twelve years later, seemingly we have role reversal with President George W. Bush. Except there is no evidence of scandal against this president. And the Democrats won't stop making scurrilous accusations. And the media are eagerly promoting it all.
The media would have you imagine that Bush the Elder said "draft dodger" in every sentence on the stump. Wrong. But thanks to the media's funhouse of double standards, the Democrats are getting millions of dollars of free publicity -- not to mention the imprimatur of credibility -- dragging this President Bush through the mud of gutter politics. Republicans have to pay money to put their opposition research on the air. The Democrats can count on the networks to offer it up. On demand. In heavy rotation. For free.
Now that John Kerry has emerged as the Democratic nominee, dragging Vietnam buddies from state to state, he's had the press actively in his corner. Kerry gets to sneer on stage that "some of us know something about aircraft carriers for real," and no journalist can be found denouncing this cheap shot. On NBC News on Feb. 4, Kerry equated Bush's Guard service with deserters and draft dodgers: "If people went to Canada, or if people opposed the war, or if people chose to be in the Guard, that's their choice, and I've never raised that as an issue."
No reporter found it noteworthy that Kerry was doing exactly that. Four days later on NBC, there was Kerry "never raising" the issue yet again. "Just because you get an honorable discharge does not, in fact, answer that question." Days later, accuracy be damned, network reporters were still declaring Kerry was staying above the fray.
The networks seem to be underlining one thing for the American people as the general election begins. Democrats can be as nasty as they want to be; that they can accuse George W. Bush of being "AWOL" without any proof; that like a mob of Michael Moores, they can equate him to a deserter; and that the press will only cheer.