Disobeying a Direct Order:
Maybe the real secret here is that George W. Bush was a conscientious objector. Maybe when he disobeyed a direct order to get a physical, he was following in the footsteps of all those in the military who braved prison and exile during the Vietnam war in order to protest the government by disobeying orders on and off the battlefield. Nah. Bush was just an overprivileged punk who knew his daddy could get him out of anything. Really, what would happen to an ordinary soldier, guardsman or otherwise, if he disobeyed so openly? And, the eternal question, what would the Republicans do right now if they found out John Kerry had disobeyed any orders at all?

But, really, why go back to Vietnam for our referrents when this very decade provides ample proof about what happens to soldiers who refuse to obey superior officers. Starting in 2000, across the military, men and women were courtmartialed for refusal to obey a direct order when the soldiers refused to take the anthrax vaccine. Some were sentenced to confinement; others were drummed out of the service. The documentary Direct Order tells what happened and is still happening to these soldiers who had medically valid reasons for refusing a direct order. It's not that they were too busy to get a vaccine. It's not that they weren't going to go anywhere where they suspected anthrax might be a problem. No, soldiers generally aren't allowed to make those kinds of decisions about the orders given them. No, these soldiers disobeyed because they believed the vaccine might make them sick or kill them. But it's a fine line between protecting your life and being at Harvard Business School, is it not?

It's too bad that Bush can't come out now and say he was a conscientious objector because some of us would give him a pass. It's too bad that he supported a war he refused to fight because that means no one can reasonably support his actions. It's too bad that the only excuses his spokespeople can give are that he was, in essence, negotiating to get out of his commitment to the military. It's too bad because it simply points out, once again, the reality of two Americas. And the not-so-fortunate sons who don't have the money and connections to weasel out of punishment for their outrages.

And Bush is lucky still that he wasn't on active duty at the time. While the Texas Code of Military Justice just prescribes court martial for the offense of refusing a direct order, the Uniform Code of Military Justice says that, during a time of war, "willfully disobeying" a superior officer could be punishable by death.

A quick P.S. here: Remember - the Republicans lowered the bar on offenses to be outraged over when they impeached Bill Clinton over lying under oath about a blow job. For some reason, that was a constitutional crisis. For some reason, this is just "foolish youth" or "who the fuck cares."