In the Washington Post, Richard Cohen discusses how much an honorable discharge from the National Guard really means in the terms of the early 1970’s.
During the Vietnam War, I was what filmmaker Michael Moore would call a “deserter.” Along with President Bush and countless other young men, I joined the National Guard, did my six months of active duty (basic training, etc.) and then returned to my home unit, where I eventually dropped from sight. In the end, just like President Bush, I got an honorable discharge. But unlike President Bush, I have just told the truth about my service. He hasn’t.
I find it really weird that when the President is asked directly “Did you complete your National Guard service?” and he answers “They wouldn’t have honorably discharged me if I didn’t, would they? There is no proof that I didn’t.” I read that as “No, Tim Russert, I did not. If I did, I would say that rather than elliptically evading your question with these weird indirect statements.”
Update: As I was driving home, I heard on NPR that the White House has brought forward pay records as the “proof” that Bush reported for service. As Richard Cohen notes in the above column, he was getting paid the entire time he was evading his duty. Cohen could bring forward the same proof, even though he admits he didn’t serve.