NATIONAL GUARD ROUNDUP….Here’s a roundup of the latest on the National Guard stuff. I gotta tell you, it’s starting to get hard to keep track of everything ? which may be either a good sign or a bad one. Here we go:

This is all pretty confusing and we’ll just have to wait and see how it pans out. In the meantime, I have a few comments.

First, payroll records alone are simply not enough. If Bush wants to put this controversy to rest, he needs to commit to opening up his complete record. So far he appears to hedging mightily on this.

Second, many of these documents have been available for years. It’s just that no one ever thought to look for them. Bob Fertik of (not associated with the Democratic Party) got copies of the ARF attendance records back in 2000 via a FOIA request, something that any reporter could have done as well. Bob has a long post about all this here.

Finally, the reason this is all controversial is because the existing record is both fragmentary and contradictory, a toxic combination that inevitably leads to lots of speculation as well as some outright conspiracy theorizing. A little Googling will show you what I mean.

My advice: don’t go there. A bit of speculation is OK, but stay away from the wilder stuff. At the same time, there’s also no reason to blindly accept whatever White House spin Dan Bartlett places on these documents.

There are at least two good reasons to be skeptical about Bush’s story: (1) some of it simply doesn’t add up and (2) he has refused to release his entire military record. Considering the trouble it’s causing, why would he do that unless there were something awfully embarrassing in there?

Bottom line: if Bush’s story is really true, he can put a stop to all this speculation instantly by simply ordering all the relevant archives to release his entire record, warts and all. Why won’t he?