Sunday, September 12, 2004


I've spent far too much time today skimming the debate about the newly released documents from the Texas Air National Guard which show that Bush disobeyed a direct order to undergo a medical examination, resulting in his suspension from flight status, and that pressure was applied to prevent him from being kicked out on his arse or (worse) transferred to active service. My conclusions?

Firstly, no matter how obscure you think a subject is - say, the capabilities of 1970's-era electric typewriters - there will be some group of geeks on the internet who will know.

Secondly, KiwiPundit's sneering about people in 1972 using proportional fonts and superscripts on typewriters says more about his ignorance of the technology than it does about the authenticity of the documents.

Thirdly, the fact that the memos could have been produced on a 1970's typewriter (and in some cases look as if they were mechanically typed rather than printed) does not of course mean they are authentic. But it does mean that they are not, as some would have it, "crude" and immediately impeachable on their face (unless you think anything which contradicts the President is by definiton false, that is). You can of course fake anything with sufficient technology; but personally I'd rather listen to actual forensic document experts than obviously partisan wingnuts who think the world began with MS-Word. Interestingly, CBS has a couple of those, and are standing by their story. And interestingly, the White House has so far acted as if they were authentic (which makes you wonder what sort of game they're playing if they think they're not).

Finally, none of the above matters. By screaming "forgery" at the top of their lungs, Bush's partisans have sufficiently muddied the waters to ensure that scant attention will be paid to the memo's contents, no matter how many specialists authenticate them. Which means that unless CBS can come up with some serious knockdown proof to show authenticity, Bush wins either way...