Monday, October 25, 2004

Presidential?

I meant to link to this last week..., but I got busy. There was a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last Thursday which ran through some highlights of Kerry and Bush at different points in their lives. The timeline is by age, so that things that happened to Kerry when Kerry was 22 are next to things that happened to Bush when Bush was 22 (along with some tidbits about other famous presidents every once in awhile).

Here are some of my favorites:
Age 18
Despite a C average in prep school, George Bush is accepted at Yale. They see something in the young man, perhaps a resemblance to his father the congressman (Yale, 1948) and his grandfather, former Connecticut senator and now Yale trustee Prescott Bush (Yale, 1917)
***
Age 21
In May 1968, George W. Bush graduates from Yale with a low C average. Now eligible for the draft, he avoids service in Vietnam by jumping to the front of a long waiting list of young men to join the 147th Fighter Group, the so-called "Champagne Unit" of the Texas Air National Guard. On his application, under the heading Overseas Assignment, Bush checks the box marked "Do not volunteer."
***
Age 22
John Kerry is chosen to deliver the class oration to the Yale graduating class of 1966. In his speech he questions the wisdom of the Vietnam War.... Despite his misgivings, he enlists in the Navy.
***
Age 26
At Christmas 1972, in Houston, Bush is driving drunk when he plows into a neighbor's garbage cans. When his father asks to have a talk, George Jr. challenges him to a fistfight.
***
Age 30
Bush is arrested for drunken driving in Kennebunkport, Maine, September 1976. His teenage sister Dorothy is a passenger in the car. He pleads guilty and pays a $150 fine.

Kerry is earning a law degree at Boston College, 1974.
***
Age 39
In late 1986, Bush's new oil company, Spectrum 7, is $3 million in debt when it is rescued by Harken Energy, which is owned by friends of his father, the vice president. He is put on the Harken board, has his debts paid, is given another $2.2 million in stock options and a salary of $120,000 a year, with no real duties to perform.
***
Age 43
In June 1990, Bush sells two-thirds of his stake in Harken Energy at 2.5 times the original value of the stock, netting $848,560 two weeks before Harken announces a disastrous quarterly report. The SEC investigates the president's son in association with the sale of his stock.
***
Age 46
In October 1990, Kerry votes to follow Cheney's recommendation to end the wasteful B-2 Bomber program. Kerry votes to stop making the F-14, which Cheney is growing skeptical of as well. Cheney proposes cutting the Trident submarine program and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle program, and Kerry, again, votes to support the defense secretary's wishes. Fourteen years later Kerry's support on these defense cuts will emerge as Vice President Cheney's bitterest criticisms of Kerry in the presidential campaign.
Age 54
He [Bush] is the first U.S. president to be sworn into office with a criminal record.

I am fairly sure that the book which this column is excerpted from has a somewhat pro-Kerry (or at least an anti-Bush) slant... but even with that slant, I think many of these facts are pretty damning. If you had read these encapsulated life stories without knowing anything else about either candidate, who would you want to be your president?

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