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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tough One to Call

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 03:55:00 PM

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Via Atrios. Bush has stated many times that, as a young man, he did a lot of volunteer work for a youth organization in Houston called Project PULL. (Professional United Leadership League.) According to this story out of Philadelphia today, his service may have been far less than voluntary. In fact, it may have been mandatory - as in "required community service." This story has surfaced before, with one reporter in the late nineties saying that Bush 41 had insisted on his completing the work following one of his drunken driving incidents. Now some others are speculating that it may have been part of a sealed sentence for a cocaine conviction. The key witness in this story is Althia Turner, an administrative assistant to the director of PULL who says,

"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time. George had to sign in and out - I remember his signature was a hurried cursive - but he wasn't an employee. He was not a volunteer either. John [White, PULL director] said he had to keep track of George's hours because George had to put in a lot of hours because he was in trouble."

Before we can jump all over this, the story needs to be put in context. To play devil's advocate for a moment, this charge is coming out in the last days before the election and, as such, it is suspect, as would any story about either candidate released under such circumstances. Also, I would want to know more about the woman making the statement, if only to find out how much of a partisan stake she has in this race. We need to look at her testimony the same way we look at the elderly National Guard officer who recently testified to Bush's service in Alabama: a single source relying on distant memories when so many other witnesses have long since passed on.

With that said, it does seem to have the possible ring of truth. Bush's driving records have remained sealed for many years despite vigorous attempts to get them released. Also, rumors of cocaine use by the young Bush have flourished since he first ran for Texas Governor, though I've never seen them substantiated. More on this may come out in the days to come, and we'll keep an eye on it. Then again, it may have no supporting evidence and just fade into the background noise of electoral bickering.

You can find some more give and take on this story at TalkLeft, The Mahablog, and The Poor Man.