Finally the Democrats start getting a sense of how this works. After various Democratic candidates and their surrogates have pressed the issue of the president's blowing off his military service in the early 1970s, The Washington Post puts together a piece reviewing what we know about the president's time in the Texas Air National Guard.
The Post piece bends over backwards to give plenty of benefits of the doubt. But it makes clear that the president jumped to the head of the line to get into the Guard because of political connections. And then, after he'd been given a comparatively easy way to get out of getting shot at or killed in Vietnam, he proceeded to blow off his service for substantial periods of time while in the Guard.
The Post points out that there is no definitive proof of Bush's non-attendance. But there is an utter lack of any documentation for his showing up for service and the officer he was supposed to report to during the key period in question continues to insist that he never laid eyes on him.
In the president's defense are a) the president's word, b) the memory of some friends who say "they recalled Bush leaving for Guard duty on occasion", and c) the fact that the aforementioned officer, when contacted yesterday by the Post, couldn't specifically remember how often he was on the base at the time.
I strongly recommend reading the article because there are various ins-and-outs that I've just summarized here. And the details are important. But the long and the short of it is that all the strong evidence points to the conclusion that the president blew off a lot of his service in the Guard, while there's enough flimsy and self-serving evidence to believe that he might have actually been there if you really, really, really want to believe he did.
A couple weeks shy of turning thirty-five myself, I'm old enough to understand that the president was pretty much a kid when at least some of this stuff happened -- 22 when he signed up. But if the president is going to run this campaign covering himself in martial glory then this stuff is more than fair game -- especially if he's not coming clean about it.
And the probable Democratic nominee was a kid too -- and he took a different path.