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President Bush Went AWOL from Boy Scouts, Democrats Charge Aug 1, 2005 - 7:49
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Democrats in Congress have called for an investigation into President George W. Bush's Boy Scout service. Even as the president offered words of comfort Sunday to more than fifty thousand scouts at their national jamboree in Virginia, Senate minority leader Harry M. Reed of Nevada announced the formation of Swift Scouts for Truth, an ad hoc committee dedicated to determining whether the president received favorable treatment after he had failed to attend regularly scheduled meetings while he was a scout in Andover, Massachusetts.
"As president, Mr. Bush is this country's scoutmaster-in-chief," said Reed. "If by his actions as a scout he dishonored the organization in any way, he should resign that post at once."
President Bush joined the Boy Scouts as a youth of eleven in the summer of 1957. He progressed through the ranks in a steady if unspectacular fashion, eventually achieving Eagle Scout status six years later in the summer following his second year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
According to scouting records released by the White House, George W. Bush was a model, albeit slow learning, scout in Texas.
"He isn't the sharpest tool in the shed," wrote Colonel Quentin Mustard, a now retired scoutmaster who was acquainted with Tenderfoot Bush at the time, "but he's a gung-ho help-old-ladies-to-cross-the-street young man."
Few would dispute Mustard's description of Bush, who gave every impression of being a model scout. Then in the summer of 1961, Bush requested a transfer to a scout troop in Andover, Massachusetts, where he planned to attend school. Such transfers were unusual, said Reed, "and there is some suspicion that Bush's father had to pull some strings to get him into a Massachusetts scouting unit.
Despite this unusual transfer privilege—or perhaps because of it—Bush treated the Andover scouting unit with disdain. Although he told the Boy Scouts at the jamboree yesterday that he was "proud to be one of them," records indicate that he not only missed months of meetings between 1961 and 1963 but also may have been improperly awarded credit for service leading to the attainment of merit badges required for elevation to Eagle Scout status.
Swift Scouts for Truth claim the White House is purposely withholding records pertaining to the president's two years of "nominal service" in the Andover, Massachusetts, scouting unit.
A cigar-smoking president rallies the troops.
"The White House knows those records will show that President Bush received merit badges in Citizenship in the World, Family Life, Emergency Preparedness, and Gay Baiting, even though there is no evidence he completed the work necessary to earn them," said Swift Scouts for Truth board member Michael Moore.
Both Moore and Reed suggest that "the missing records" will also show the future president had first attempted to transfer to a "standby scouting unit" in Massachusetts. Unlike the Texas unit to which the president had belonged, the Massachusetts standby unit reqjuired no monthly meetings, and its members could earn merit badges simply by writing a paper about—rather than actually performing—the requirements for each merit badge.
In late September 1961, Bush finally joined a "ready reserve scouting unit" in Massachusetts, but shortly afterward he failed to take the annual physical exam required of all Eagle Scout candidates. Although Bush has explained that he had missed his physical because he was waiting to get examined by his personal physician, Reed maintains that Bush "should have known" scouts had to be examined by approved scouting doctors.
As a consequence of failing to report for his scouting physical, Bush was notified that he was suspended from all scouting promotion programs. Nevertheless, he was able to obtain merit badges between 1961 and 1963, and his suspension was eventually lifted so he could graduate "with honor" from the scouting program with the rank of Eagle Scout when he turned eighteen.
Bush has described his years in Andover as his "nomadic" years, when he "kind of floated and saw a lot of life." No one who knew him at the time remembers him seeing a lot of Boy Scout service, nor did he exhibit much interest in anything else apart from cheerleading practice and drinking.
In related news, if Bush is found guilty of deserting his scouting unit, former Eagle Scout and current vice president, Dick Cheney could possibly assume command of the Boy Scouts. This prospect is cause for concern in some quarters because Cheney is widely suspected of favoring the nationalizing some scouting units in times of emergency.