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Book Review: Unfit Commander: Texans for Truth Take on George W. Bush by Glenn W. Smith

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‘Tis the season for political punditry passing as books. In the ticker-tape tornado of tomes about the Texan, we now have Unfit Commander. Glenn W. Smith addresses the president’s military record with the focus and intensity of a victim of OCD washing his hands for the fiftieth time. He admits a certain amount of narcissism when he says, “My own feelings about the issue are deeply personal.” The degree of relevancy of this perennial issue aside, it is unlikely that anyone that has been awake through this or the 2000 presidential campaign doubts that there is something questionable about George W. Bush’s appointment and subsequent performance in the Texas Air National Guard. But it is also apparent that, despite the fact that there are legitimate questions about his service, the voters are willing to overlook them both in Texas and in the nation as a whole.

The first chapter, and the only real writing done by Mr. Smith, is a long and rambling journey through Bush’s military past and his administration’s somewhat deconstructionist interpretation of the documents related to it. He wanders in and out of his own narrative, reminding us that this is a right and good fight that he fights. He says, “the real reason for publishing Unfit Commander [is] because in the swirl of charge and counter charge, it is imperative that Americans not lose sight of the real question, which is, quite simply, How did George W. Bush choose to serve his country during the Vietnam era?” Chapter Two is entirely concerned with the White House press briefings relevant to the documents that have trickled down throughout 2004 regarding Bush’s military record. Finally, in Chapter Three, we are actually presented with the documents themselves. The reader can thumb through page after page of blurry and hard to read copies that chronicle, more or less, George’s brief and inglorious military career.

The facts are there. If it were not so before, this book makes it crystal clear that something was not completely fair about George W. Bush’s time in the military compared to that of any other young man of that time whose family was not rich and politically connected. But there is little to that. That is to say, this has been true throughout history and, fair or not, there is a degree of grudging acceptance of it by the voters. Nor is there anything new to the fact that the White House has tried to spin the story. There might have been a story here if the young George had turned down what was offered him then or if the White House now freely admitted that the obvious conclusions are also the right ones. All in all, though, Mr. Smith’s cry for truth is a weak one in the roaring whirlwind of spin and re-spin that crowds the shelves of the bookstores here at the end of this campaign season.

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About Bryce Eddings

  • curt

    hey andy –

    since you’re a self-proclaimed voracious reader and intense, open-minded seeker of the truth regarding the candidates military records, i’m guessing you’ve already ordered this book…am i correct?

  • John Bennett

    Dear Blogcritics:
    I have just had the misadventure of seeing Glenn Smith and John O’Neill interviewed and questioned at a Texas bar on October 20. I must take this opportunity to express my unbridled disdain for anything that might issue from Smith’s undisciplined, unoriginal, emotional, paranoid and delusional brain. I don’t need to read his book to know that it is a pile of political propoganda garbage typical of the crap put out continuously by the Demogogic Party and their friends and supporters. Do you have a more complete biographical sketch on Smith that you could post? I would be interested in studying what warped and wierd birth and upbringing could produce such out of control thought!

    John Bennett

  • John Bennett

    Put in simple terms that you can understand – you are a zero. Stop cluttering the site with your inane comments. Your total of 124 comments indicates you have nothing better to do with your time. If you wait until you have somehing intelligent to say, maybe we won’t hear from you any more!

  • curt – can’t say that I have ordered or read this book or that I have any intentions to read it. I personally don’t care how W got into the guard. I DO want to know why jFk hasn’t signed the SF-180. That’s a book I would buy and read.

  • Bryce, I don’t understand why you are holding the author of the book responsible for some Americans’ indifference to Bush’s hypocrisy about his military record. The responsibility for that failing, and a great penchant for know-nothingness in general, belongs to those Americans. It is the horse/drink dilemma. Reporters and other writers have made enough material about Bush’s evasion of meaningful military service available that no literate person has grounds for being ignorant of it.

    It is ludicrous that a decorated Vietnam veteran, who no one can deny served there, is being assailed by stupid and the envious. And, simultaneously, they exhalt a born with a silver spoon in his mouth scion who sent them to do the fighting and dying for him.

    So, I guess what one does is applaud the people who have done what they can to create an honest historical record, even if a significant part of the populace has no interest in factual information.

  • if he’s such a great veteran…what is he hiding that causes him not to release ALL his military records???

    He has NEVER signed SF-180 and he is the ONLY person to EVER have run for president ON HIS RECORD that won’t release his record!!!