Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Wealth and position beget privilege for the children of power

Title: An Absence in Alabama
Source: Time
Date: February 8, 2004

This article from Time magazine describes Bush's military experiences. In the process it offers insight into the ways in which the wealthy and well-positioned are able to manipulate the system.

Excerpts from the article:
  • "From the start, Bush's military record shows evidence of favoritism, beginning with the way he won a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1968."
  • "After graduating from Yale, Bush leaped to the top of a 500-man Texas Guard wait list, despite scoring poorly on a pilot aptitude test. At the time, Bush's father was a G.O.P. Congressman from Houston, and Ben Barnes—who was speaker of the Texas House in 1968—testified in 1999 that he had put in a good word for Bush with Guard officials at the request of a Bush family friend."
  • "Bush got into the Texas Guard's "champagne unit" (along with the sons of other Texas politicians, like John Connally and Lloyd Bentsen)."
  • "After spending more than a year in training, Bush was obligated to report for duty one weekend a month at Houston's Ellington Air Force Base, protecting the Gulf Coast of the U.S. from aerial attack."
  • "The Texas Guard immortalized Bush's first solo flight in an F-102, issuing a press release at the time celebrating the patriotism of the freshly minted jet jockey."
  • "Bush applied to perform "equivalent" service with the Alabama National Guard during the campaign. But Bush, a self-admitted carouser in his younger days, apparently played some hooky: no official record of his Alabama service has ever surfaced."
  • "There is no official record that Bush performed Guard drills during the next six months."
  • "In May 1973, Bush's superiors in Houston wrote that they could not give Bush his annual evaluation because he had "not been observed at this unit during the period of this report""
  • "Also in May 1973, the Texas Guard issued two "special orders" directing Bush to report for duty. Over the next three months, Bush returned to his original Texas Guard unit and crammed in 36 days of active duty, apparently fulfilling the Guard's demands."
  • "In October 1973 he received an honorable discharge—nearly eight months early—so he could attend Harvard Business School."
Yale, a "champagne unit" in the Texas Guard, then Harvard Business School. That is the level of privilege offered by the concentration of wealth and power.


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