A difficult press briefing

It’s worth reading the entire thing at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/02/20040210-3.html, but some choice extracts:

Q …when Senator Kerry goes around campaigning, there’s frequently what they call “a band of brothers,” a bunch of soldiers who served with him, who come forward and give testimonials for him. I see, in looking at our files in the campaign of 2000, it said that you were looking for people who served with him to verify his account of service in the National Guard. Has the White House been able to find, like Senator Kerry, “a band of brothers” or others who can testify about the President’s service?

MR. McCLELLAN: [fails to answer question]

Q Actually, I wasn’t talking about documents, I was talking about people — you know, comrades-in-arms —

MR. McCLELLAN: Right. That’s why I said everything that came to our attention that was available, we made available at that time, during the 2000 campaign.

Q But you said you were looking for people — and I take it you didn’t find any people?

MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, obviously, we would have made people available. [but fails to explain why they didn’t.]

Q Scott, can I follow on this, because I do think this is important. You know, it might strike some as odd that there isn’t anyone who can stand up and say, I served with George W. Bush in Alabama, or in Houston in the Guard unit. Particularly because there are people, his superiors who have stepped forward — in Alabama and in Houston — who have said in the past several years that they have no recollection of him being there and serving. So isn’t that odd that nobody — you can’t produce anyone to corroborate what these records purport to show?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, we’re talking about some 30 years ago. You are perfectly welcome to go back and talk to individuals from that time period. But these documents —

Q Hey, we’re trying. But I would have thought you guys would have had a real good handle on —

MR. McCLELLAN: – these documents make it very clear that the President of the United States fulfilled his duties —

Q Well, that’s subject to interpretation.

MR. McCLELLAN: No. When you serve, you are paid for that service. And these documents outline the days on which he was paid. That means he served. And these documents also show that he met his requirements. And it’s just really a shame that people are continuing to bring this issue up. When —

Q I understand —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, no. People asked for records to be released that would demonstrate he met his requirements. The records have now been fully released. The facts are clear —

Q Do you know that a lot of these payroll records are —

MR. McCLELLAN: — the facts are clear —

Q — you can’t read them. Have you looked at these? You can’t — how are we supposed to read these?

And a bit later on:

Q Scott, two questions, one on the documents, one on the issue. There seems to be a discrepancy now in the President’s record that I wondered if you could help me with. These documents that you’re holding up show that the President showed up for duty in October and November of ’72, January, April and May of ’73. But the President’s officer effectiveness report, filed by his commanders, Lieutenants Colonel Killean and Harris, both now deceased, for the period 01 May ’72 to 30 April, ’73, says he has not been observed at this unit, where he was supposed to show up and earning these points on these days. How do you square —

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re talking about which unit?

Q The Texas — at the Ellington Air Force Base.

MR. McCLELLAN: From ’72 to ’73?

Q Correct. And certainly by — the President said he returned to Texas in November of ’72. So some of these dates of service, which are in these records, ought to have been noted by his commanding officers, who, nevertheless, said, twice, he has not been observed here. Can you explain that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not sure about these specific documents. I’ll be glad to take a look at them. But these documents show the days on which he was paid for his service. And the President — as I’ve said, and we previously said during the 2000 campaign — recalls serving both in Texas and in Alabama during the time period you’re bringing up.

Q So he served, but his commanding officers didn’t know it?

And a final sally by the irritated reporters:

Q Okay, so then, do they specifically show that he served in Alabama during that time?

MR. McCLELLAN: They show payments in October; they show payments in November.

Q But just because he’s paid doesn’t mean that he served and worked there, does it?

Q Come on.

One thought on “A difficult press briefing

  1. You wrote your MPhil paper on Richard of Wallingford’s clock. In it you report “The change from timekeeping by the ‘canonical hours’ (based on the classical system of dividing each of day and night into twelve equal parts) to the ‘equinoctial hours’ (24 equal divisions from noon to noon or midnight to midnight) is probably attributable to the introduction of the mechanical clock. [34] Clepsydræ were filled to different levels depending on the time of year, as changes in the length of day and night would affect the time of the next canonical hour of prayer. It is much more difficult to regulate a mechanical clock in this way; for a large tower clock it is virtually impossible. This does not seem to have caused terrible upheaval to anybody; indeed, as early as 1306 the citizens and Bishop of Salisbury agreed that the end of the morning occurred when the cathedral clock struck one. [35]

    I am doing some work (in conjunction with a leading medieval horologist and the best tower clock maker in England) on the Salisbury clock (testing etc) specifically and foliot regulated clocks in general (used extensively in Japan until 1872) becuase they are actually easily adjusted for canonical hours. We are also trying to date the Salisbury clock – currently considered to be about 1386. Can you let me know what the reference might be for you interesting quote that there was a clock in 1306 that struck one? That would be a wonderful document to find and a great help to our group.

    Malcolm Bell

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