Joe Lavin

February 17, 2004

Dentalgate: Are Those the President's Teeth?

Where was George? That's the big question in Washington this week, as President Bush tries to show that he fully performed his duties in the Alabama National Guard in 1972 and 1973. Granted, there is no actual proof that Bush was AWOL during that period, but there's also little proof that he was on the base either. So far, the best the White House has come up with are records of a dental examination that he had there in January 1973. Not since the days of George Washington and his wooden teeth have dental records played such a prominent role in presidential politics.

Well, I've studied those dental records, and one thing is perfectly clear. George Bush certainly wasn't flossing back in 1973. I ask you. Do we really want to re-elect a president with such casual disregard for plaque? In fact, the dentist has made black squiggly marks over no less than five of his teeth. I don't actually know what those black squiggly marks mean, but they certainly can't be signs of good dental hygiene. We need a president with a good set of teeth and strong gums. After this week's dental bombshell, can we really trust that George Bush is that man?

Besides, were those really his dental records? Look closely, and it's not clear at all whether those are actually his bicuspids. Could it be possible that those are the teeth of another man? After all, his father was a powerful man. What was to stop him from using his influence to pay off someone else to go to the dentist for his son?

To be fair, the dental records aren't the only proof. The White House also released some payroll records, which showed that Bush was paid for his duty during the period. This, of course, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt one of two things:

1. George Bush fully performed his duties in the National Guard during this time, or
2. George Bush was nowhere to be found and to add insult to injury was still drawing a paycheck from Uncle Sam.

Not to mention the free dental care! What if he really did desert his post but went to the dentist anyway? Was he receiving free dental care that should have gone to another less privileged member of the National Guard who actually reported for duty? Was he using his father's position to move ahead of others in the queue for a dental appointment? Would trying to sneak onto the base to go to the dentist without being seen by any commanding officers count as a covert operation? These are all questions that deserve to be answered by the White House. Just because no one else is asking them is no excuse for their silence.

Obviously, we don't really know whether George Bush did show up for his Guard duty, but it's interesting that practically nobody in his unit who wasn't a dentist remembers him. Well, The Washington Post did find one man who remembered that Bush would "sit in his office and read magazines and flight manuals" on the weekends he served. Meanwhile, The New York Times interviewed sixteen people who served in his unit at the time, and not one could remember him.

Even if he was there, it doesn't say much for the future President of the United States that most of his fellow Guard members don't actually recall serving with him. So much for leadership. On the bright side, at least it proves that he wasn't a complete screw-up, because in that case everyone would remember him.

This is where I would normally conclude with some joke about George Bush valiantly protecting the Alabama front from the Viet Cong, but I suppose that's a little harsh. After all, serving in the National Guard is a hell of a lot more than I've ever done. For me, just the fact that he showed up for his dentist appointment at all proves that he's substantially braver than I, but those had damn well better be his teeth.

©2004 Joe Lavin

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