Nick Kristof promoted the "Bush AWOL" story in the NY Times yesterday. His lede featured Bob Mintz, who claimed to be quite certain that Bush never reported for duty in Alabama. However, either Mr. Mintz misled Nick Kristof about his involvement in this story, or Nick Kristof is engaging in a bit of strategic misrepresentation. Since Mr. Mintz is a key figure in a new Bush-bashing ad, his credibility is quite interesting to us. Here is the key excerpt:
...In his first interview with a national news organization, Mr. Mintz recalled why he remembered Mr. Bush as a no-show: "Young bachelors were kind of sparse. For that reason, I was looking for someone to haul around with." Why speak out now? He said, "After a lot of soul-searching, I just feel it's my duty to stand up and do the right thing."
Mr. Mintz is a compelling witness. Describing himself as "a very strong military man," he served in the military from 1959 to 1984. A commercial pilot, he is now a Democrat but was a Republican for most of his life, and he is not a Bush-hater. When I asked him whether the National Guard controversy raises questions about Mr. Bush's credibility, Mr. Mintz said only, "That's up to the American people to decide."
Nick Kristof needs to buy a subscription to Google. With it, he would have found this interview with Mr. Mintz, who is telling his story (virtually unchanged) to CBS News in February 2004.
So when Mr. Mintz was asked, "Why come forward now?", why the toe-in-the-carpet soul-searching? Has he already forgotten his chat with CBS last winter? That does not encourage confidence in his memory of events in 1972.
And in assessing Mr. Mintz's feelings about George Bush, perhaps Mr. Kristof forgot to ask, and Mr. Mintz forgot to mention, that Mr. Mintz is starring in a new Bush-bashing ad run by "Texans for Truth".
I don't know if the "Texans for Truth" duped Mr. Kristof, or whether Mr. Kristof manage to reach the absurd conclusion that Mintz's appearance in the ad should not affect our judgement of his credibility. I do know that Mr. Kristof ought to use Google.
NOTE: You have just finished the Atkins version; here is the original sprawling, brawling post below.
UPDATE: CBS News is on my side (how odd for both of us). It's buried in the closing paragraphs, but here we go:
But like their Republican counterparts, Texans for Truth has a credibility problem. While the chief accuser, former Alabama Guard pilot Bob Mintz, says in the ad it would have been impossible for Mr. Bush to have gone unnoticed, in an interview earlier this year with CBS News, Mintz admitted he's not a smoking gun.
"I cannot say he was not there," Mintz said. "Absolutely positively was not there. I cannot say that. I cannot say he didn't do his duty."
Hey, CBS smacks Kristof. Go, my new Big Media friends.
And we know that Messrs. Kristof and Okrent will want to hear from their readers. "A compelling witness!"
E-mails: Nick Kristof -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Okrent -- email@example.com
They will probably want feedback on their careful vetting of this "Texans for Truth" story. I have more in my endless post.