By any measure, the biggest political story of the week has been the extremely detailed plans released by incumbent President George W. Bush and his challenger, John Kerry, regarding what each would do with the swelling morass that is the nation of Iraq.
Oh, no, sorry. That would be the biggest political story of the week in a properly functioning democracy. Here in America, the biggest story of the week has of course been the distribution of pretty obviously bogus Texas National Guard documents by some fool with an anti-Bush axe to grind. An equally foolish Dan Rather of CBS hyped the papers as proof positive that Bush got some special considerations in the National Guard back in 1972. (Memo to Dan: We already knew this.)
The national brigade of Internet snoops figured out that the memos were phony in about 24 hours, and their next order of business was figuring out who gave the documents to CBS in the first place. It didn't take long for local blogger Nathan Moore, a self-described partisan Republican and proprietor of the Web site www.moorethoughts.com, to unearth a quote from prominent Nashville attorney-cum-Kerry bigwig Bob Tuke that seemed to substantiate a Kerry campaign connection with the scandal. It happened on the Aug. 11 edition of WAMB 1160-AM's Teddy Bart's Roundtable, when Tuke indicated that certain damning information regarding George W. Bush's military service would be forthcoming.
Moore has the quote: "Bob Tuke said that by the time of the debates, 'We may also know why Bush failed to show up for his medical exam that caused him to lose his flight status.' "
And wouldn't you know, evidence to that general effect surfaced just a few weeks later on CBS' 60 Minutes II, courtesy of Rather, and soon enough, Tuke's quote was making the rounds on the Internetincluding a post on the widely read Instapundit.comas a possible sign that this was indeed an inside job. On Tuke's Sept. 15 visit to the Roundtable, he was confronted with the suspicion that he had had some knowledge of what was to come, to which Tuke responded that he had had no knowledge of the documents in question, nor did he have any reason to believe that they came from anybody in the Kerry campaign.
Tuke tells the Scene that the allegation itself, posed by a listener to the show via e-mail, was actually the first he had ever heard about his involvement in any alleged "conspiracy." Tuke also says that he was referring in August to what may arise from Associated Press efforts to get the U.S. Defense Department to release certain records from Bush's time in the service.
Indeed, Moore's account apparently omitted a later statement Tuke made during the same programthat he didn't have any cause to believe that the actual reason that Bush missed his physical would be revealed by the evidence.
Moreover, he is highly critical of whoever funneled CBS the documents, since the whole affair has obviously done nothing to help the Kerry-Edwards team. Worse yet for Kerry, it has essentially inoculated Bush on any charges regarding his guard service.
As for that 16-point lead for Bush among Tennessee voters touted by The Tennessean's Mason-Dixon poll on Sunday, Tukegood soldier that he has always beenis naturally dismissive.
"They're not polling our people," Tuke says of Mason-Dixon, a firm that has a mixed record in Tennessee. "They're polling Rutherford County and places like that. They're not getting to the people in our areas like Memphis and Nashville."
Tuke also remains optimistic about Kerry's chances in Tennessee, pointing to the many thousands of registered voters in the state that don't vote often but are energized this year.
"If we can get them out to the polls," Tuke says, "we can win."
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