Come clean, commander-in-chief

As the chances of a war-hero Democrat challenging the president in November become greater with each week, the calls for George W. Bush to explain his spotty military record will grow louder. As well they should.

Through family connections, Bush was able to avoid actual combat in Vietnam by landing a spot on the Texas National Guard. As the joke goes, Bush must have done a bang-up job because the Viet Cong never attacked the Lone Star State.

But Bush’s military records indicate he was MIA for a full year of his six-year National Guard commitment. And the records that are available indicate he got out of his Houston Guard unit eight months early so he could go to Harvard Business School

But why can’t records substantiating Bush’s full commitment be found? Does he have nothing to show? The president’s defenders say that four years ago the same charges were leveled against Bush, that these are stale accusations. Maybe, but at that time, Bush was only a candidate for office. This time around he is commander-in-chief, a self-proclaimed “war president” who has committed American soldiers and billions of dollars to a military campaign that was based both on faulty intelligence and the intense desire to rush to war.

Until the Boston Globe revealed this hole in his military record, Bush’s biography said he flew jets for the Guard from 1968 to 1973; and in 1999 he said in an interview that one of the things he learned flying those jets was “the responsibility to show up and do your job.”

Do your job, Mr. President. Explain the gaps in your service records.