BUSH, BARNES, AND THE NATIONAL GUARD….Since the whole Bush AWOL thing has popped back onto the radar screen lately, I thought everyone might enjoy a trip into the memory hole. This is from 1999:

In a written statement under oath presented on Monday, Ben Barnes, a former speaker of the Texas state legislature, said that in 1968 he asked the head of the Texan Air National Guard, General James Rose, to give the young Mr Bush a place on a pilot-training programme, automatically excusing him from the draft.

….In his deposition, Mr Barnes said he had been asked to intervene by a Bush family friend, Sid Adger, but he did not know whether George Bush Sr, then a congressman, knew about the request. The former president said recently that he was “almost positive” that he had never discussed the matter with Adger, who died three years ago, and never asked for help. Rose died in 1993.

Ben Barnes was one of the most powerful politicians in Texas in the 60s and 70s ? “the next LBJ” ? until an unfortunate scandal derailed his career (although fret not for Barnes: his consolation prize was becoming a garden variety Texas tycoon and political fixit man). Sid Adger was an oil magnate and friend of the Bush family.

So did George W. Bush get some high-level help getting into the Texas Air Guard? Of course he did, and it came from higher up than Adger, who didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to call Barnes for no reason. Somebody asked him to. Hell, even the official denials from the Bush camp are obviously just pro forma.

But the thing is that no one cares. Sure he got special treatment, but so did lots of other folks and that was 35 years ago anyway. It’s just not that big a deal.

However, what is a big deal is that it makes it rather more plausible that Bush continued to receive special treatment throughout his career in the Guard and for many years after. More on that later.