Rick Perry’s Military Service Will Be Largely Meaningless In 2012

Politico’s Maggie Haberman  notes that the above picture, which purports to contrast what Rick Perry and Barack Obama were doing in the early years, is apparently circulating among conservatives and comments:

David Limbaugh, the conservative author and brother of Rush, tweets an imageyou’re likely to see again.

(…)

Perry spokesman Mark Miner emailed this response: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

As we reported recently, Perry himself also questioned on the stump the fact that Obama had never served in the military.

As it turns out, Obama is not 22 in the picture on the upper right. That picture was taken when Obama was was student at Occidental College, which he left in favor of Columbia University in 1981 when he was only 20.

Putting that aside, though, I would think that recent history would make it clear to Republicans that making a culture war argument like this isn’t really going to get them anywhere:

1992: Bill Clinton (no military service) beat Poppy Bush (World War II veteran).
1996: Clinton (no military service) beat Bob Dole (World War II veteran).
2000: George W Bush (Texas Air National Guard) “beat” Al Gore (Vietnam veteran).
2004: W (Texas Air National Guard) beat John Kerry (Vietnam combat veteran).
2004: Barack Obama (no military service) beat John McCain (Vietnam combat veteran, POW).

And then, of course, there’s 1980: Ronald Reagan (served stateside doing films for the military) beats Jimmy Carter (Naval Academy graduate and submariner). If Rick Perry is the nominee, he’s not going to beat Obama because he flew C-130’s back in the the 1970s.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    We’ve already been told how Perry’s college transcript makes him unqualified to be president; next up, smears over his military record.

    That’s just how they roll.

    Got any dirt yet, Doug?

    J.

  2. @Jay Tea:

    Please explain to me how the fact that Rick Perry flew C-130 for a few years 40 years ago is at all relevant to a Presidential race in 2012

  3. Michael says:

    That wasn’t a smear on his military record, it was evidence that the candidate with the stronger military record has lost in every Presidential contest since 1992.

  4. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    It’s absolutely true that Perry’s military service will have virtually no political impact next year.

    Obama’s supporters will be voting for Obama regardless of what he did at age 22, or what he’s doing now, or what he’ll be doing over the next four years. That demographic either is voting strictly based upon skin color, or they’re still in school and clueless, or they went senile a decade ago, or they’re in a public money union and don’t want the gravy train to end for themselves, or they want to live on government largesse.

    Rational and informed adults who work for a living, on the other hand, already are priced in as votes for the Republican nominee. Whether it’s Perry (who served) or Romney (who never served) makes no difference.

    The extreme, evangelical right doesn’t care about military service. To the extent they participate in next year’s election it’ll solely be predicated upon religion. The sheer lunatic right either doesn’t vote or to the extent they do cast ballots it won’t have anything to do with experience or qualifications or job performance.

    The apolitical wing of the body politic won’t be voting based upon respective military bona fides. That demographic either votes or doesn’t vote largely based upon frivolity, e.g., looks, height, whim, “popularity,” opinion polls, etc.

    The military itself already overwhelmingly votes Republican and the small fraction that doesn’t (about 1/3) largely consists of blacks who’d overwhelmingly be voting for the Democrat candidate in any event.

    It’s basic political math.

  5. JLawson says:

    1992 – New hotness beats old and tired sameness, with media complicity.
    1996 – Cooling hotness beats old and tired ‘it’s my turn to run, dammit! Out of my way before I beat you with my Viagra!”
    2000 – New hotness beats old and tired sameness, even with media doing its best to kill off new hotness.
    2004 – Cooling hotness, even with wars and problems beats Mr 3 purple hearts for scratches Swiftboat ‘commander who bugged out and became an antiwar vet, even with media doing its best to kill off cooling hotness.
    2008 – New Chicago-machine hotness w/blank record w/media complicity beats old and tired “I’ll behave honorably in this election”.

    Problem is – Chicago-machine cooling hotness has not demonstrated competency, rendering further attempts to get elected very difficult. He’ll be freezing by 2012 – any competent candidate that’s warmer stands an excellent chance.

  6. AllenS says:

    That picture of Perry (if it is a picture of him), doesn’t show him about to climb into a C-130.

  7. @Jay Tea:

    I don’t recall you being upset about smearing Kerry’s military service back in 2004. Of course, both parties only care about military service when their candidate had one. If he did, suddenly no one who wasn’t in the military should ever be president. If he didn’t, then military service is completely irrelevant to the job.

    Looks like in 2012 it’s the GOPs turn to be shamelessly insincere.

  8. Jay Tea says:

    @Doug Mataconis: The “next up” wasn’t referring to your article, but a prediction.

    It’s coming…

    J.

  9. @AllenS:

    I’m not a plane expert that’s probably a training aircraft. Perry spent the majority of his five year military career flying C-130s in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East

  10. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t recall any “smearing,” Stormy. I just remember a lot of differing opinions, and some seriously bizarre discrepancies in his service — the official record of which he STILL hasn’t released to the public, about seven years after he promised to do so.

    You wanna play this game, Stormy? I still have my notes from 2004, and they include some very, very unpleasant implications about John Forbes Kerry’s behavior during the 1970’s…

    J.

  11. Jay Tea says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It’s definitely a two-seater, with tandem seats, so I think you’re right about it being a trainer. I’m far more up on warships than planes, but it looks consistent with a T-38 trainer.

    J.

  12. Ian says:

    Jay,

    If you can remember aaaaaaalllll the way back to 2004, you guys smeared a war hero while cheering on the two draft dodgers at the top of the GOP ticket.

    Plus, the Left left McCain and Bush Sr’s service alone, because in both cases it was real and it was honourable. Sure, we made fun of how often McCain brought out the POW story, but c’mon, he did use it even when it wasn’t appropriate. Meanwhile, Bush Jr was in a Champagne Unit, which made you guys melt like little girls at a Bieber concert.

    If Perry or his supporters want to make him out to be the second coming of Rambo because he flew C-130’s in peacetime 40 years ago, they can go right ahead. But we will be laughing at you.

  13. @AllenS:

    The plane in the photo is a T-38. Perry was apparently original on the track to become a flight instructor before switching to become a C-130 pilot so he could remained stationed in Texas rather than being moved to Alabama.

  14. Muffler says:

    Obama was getting an Ivy League school education while Perry was flying airplanes. This was also lifetimes ago. Being able to fly is no indication of being able to govern. We have learned lesson already.

  15. @Jay Tea:

    I see. And what, pray tell, is the significance of all those “bizarre discrepancies” and “unpleasant implications”?

  16. Jay Tea says:

    (Made too many typos; gonna rewrite it)

    J.

  17. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I have very few problems with Kerry’s combat service; it’s what he did after that galled me. I once even questioned whether he was a “peace criminal.”

    Kerry left active duty on January 3, 1970, going through various reserve statuses over the next several years. His official discharge is dated 1978 — four years after he should have been discharged, having fulfilled his obligations as of 1974.

    But in May 1970, Kerry — as part of his leadership role in Viet Nam Veterans For Peace, traveled to Paris to meet with representatives of the North Viet Nam government, and helped work out the unofficial “People’s Peace Treaty” while the US was having formal negotiations there.

    And then, in 1972, the Navy offered to move Kerry from the Ready Reserve (inactive) to the Standby Reserve – inactive. Note this wasn’t at Kerry’s request, but the Navy’s.

    Here’s a possible explanation, more consistent with the known facts than the official story
    :
    1) Kerry, while a Navy reservist, violated UCMJ regulations by meeting with leaders of a hostile state without permission.
    2) Kerry was moved to down in status as a disciplinary move, and was later given a “less than honorable” discharge, but later had his discharge “upgraded” to “honorable” status during the Carter administration while they were also pardoning draft dodgers and otherwise looking to “move on” from the whole Viet Nam War — anti-war mess.

    If there’s another explanation for the key dates (1970: leaving active duty; 1970, meeting with North Viet Nam officials; 1972, having his reserve status downgraded; 1974, completing his term of service; 1978, official honorable discharge), I’d be curious to hear it.

    That could have been answered years ago, if Kerry had released his records to anyone besides his pet journalists, who all said “nothing funny here!” on our behalf.

    J.

  18. @Jay Tea:

    So when Doug points out being in the military won’t automatically win a Republican the presidency, that’s smearing someone’s military career. When Jay accuses a Democrat of treason and being dishonorably discharged (based purely on speculation), that’s just “a difference of opinion”.

  19. It should also be noticed how closely the Kerry controversy mirrors the Birth certificate controversy. The documents related to Kerry’s release from active duty, transfer to reserve status, and discharge are all publically available. So the nutters imagine some horrifying secret that could be contained in some other document not available to the public, despite repeated assurances from both officials and reporters who have been show the original that this isn’t the case.

  20. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: No, I repeat: I wasn’t saying that Doug’s piece was a smear, I was saying that the smears will come.

    And why do I speculate about Kerry’s discharge? Because I find it interesting. And I find it more interesting is how he promised seven years ago to release the records that would clear it all up, but hasn’t yet.

    As I said, the dates are pretty clear. Kerry WAS a member of the Navy when he took part in the Paris meetings, and that was a clear violation of the UCMJ. And if you — or anyone else — can explain how Kerry didn’t break military law, I’d like to hear it.

    J.

  21. @Jay Tea:

    And why do I speculate about Kerry’s discharge? Because I find it interesting. And I find it more interesting is how he promised seven years ago to release the records that would clear it all up, but hasn’t yet.

    Except he has. You can find links to them all at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_career_of_John_Kerry#Honorable_Discharge

    Again, this is just like the birthers saying “why won’t Obama just release his birth certificate?” for years after he had.

  22. Miscreant says:

    The left-leaning blogger misses the point of the pictures: It’s not about military service. It’s about portraying character.

  23. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That’s one of the sources I just used, Stormy. You might have noticed I pointed out that his discharge is dated four years after he finished his obligation, and just over a year after Carter issued his blanket pardon for draft dodgers.

    If you want more laughs, look up Kerry’s medals from Viet Nam, and what has happened — or not happened — to them over the years. That’s even more entertaining — ‘cuz it doesn’t have the implications Kerry’s service dates does.

    J.

  24. @Jay Tea:

    Also, we have the birther tactic of just making up laws to fit their story. Nothing Kerry did in Paris could have been a clear violation of the UCMJ, because members of the inactive reserves aren’t subject to the UCMJ unless they’re involved in a training function.

  25. Jay Tea says:

    Dammit, I made a mistake. Kerry’s original enlistment was a six-year contract, not an eight-year contract. So he was free and clear as of 1972.

    Here’s a really good summary of the questions that still haven’t been resolved:

    http://www.nysun.com/national/mystery-surrounds-kerrys-navy-discharge/3107/

    But back to Perry… expect his military records to be leaked any day now, just like his college transcripts. Funny how those kinds of leaks never come out about Obama, huh?

    J.

  26. @Jay Tea:

    He would have been clear in 1972, had he served on active duty for the whole six years. When he was moved to the inactive reserves in 1970 to allow him to run for congress, he still owed the Navy two more years of service, which he continued to owe until his discharge in 1978.

    It’s only mysterious for people who don’t know what’s going on and believe all the fake rules and laws the conspiracy theorists conjure out of air to make routine things look fishy.

  27. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: There’s some dispute about whether IRR members are subject to the UCMJ, but the predominant opinion seems to be that they are not. SO I’ll concede that point. And not happily, but it really looks like I had it wrong. I still think it’s incredibly inappropriate for a commissioned officer still part of the service to meet with representatives of a hostile nation on his own, but apparently not against UCMJ. I appreciate the correction — not the style, and certainly not the “birther” smear, but the substance.

    But that still doesn’t address the timing elements of Kerry’s discharge, or all the other irregularities the Sun article brings up — the review by a panel directed by the president really jumps out.

    J.

  28. @Jay Tea:

    the review by a panel directed by the president really jumps out.

    Again, trying to make the routine look fishy. “review by a panel directed by the president” does not mean “President Carter specifically directed us to review John Kerry’s record” it means “according to the procedure established by the President for processing discharges”. Anyone leaving the service with time left on their commitment would be doing so after review by “a panel directed by the president”.

    Specifically, note the reference to BUPERSMAN 3830300. This was a procedure added in 1977, to cover officers who had been on inactive reserve for more than three years.

    Which explains the timing. It had nothing to do with the pardon.

  29. MM says:

    @Miscreant: How do posed photographs comparing apples to oranges portray character? OMG. He has a hat! And is leaning against a wall!

    @Tsar Nicholas II: You’ve gone past the strawman argument and have created an entire straw nation conducting a straw election.

    Jay Tea has already played the pre-victim card I see.

  30. Davebo says:

    Guys,

    Don’t feed the Tea. There’s no upside to it and you won’t learn anything you haven’t already gotten from old peoples emails.

    And while flying a cargo aircraft for the Air Force is certainly no disgrace, it really means they felt you were not fit for tactical aviation.

  31. mantis says:

    Jay Tea has been pushing this Kerry nonsense for more than seven years now, and here reveals all of his information comes from wingnut sources largely devoid of facts, but replete with paranoid fabrications. Of course, that could describe much of what Jay Tea, and the rest of the wingnutosphere, writes.

    Shocking, I know.

  32. mantis says:

    Mahablog has a response.

  33. DavidL says:

    John Kerry posted some of his militqry records on line in 2004 They made for interesting and amusing reading. As I recall, Kerry listed a DD for 214B showing the award of Silver Star with a V for Valor device, and a upgraded (from what?) discharge.

  34. Jay Tea says:

    But Kerry still hasn’t kept that promise to release his records…

    But back to the original point: Perry’s military service will be meaningless in the current political climate, unless something can be found or fabricated that somehow discredits it and makes it a liability.

    J.

  35. @Jay Tea:

    Jay Tea will only accept the Long Form Discharge Record.

  36. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Jay Tea will only accept the Long Form Discharge Record.

    Which, if released, will surely be a forgery.

  37. Jay Tea says:

    Nah, just the standard Form 180 that he promised Tim Russert he’d sign in February 2005. And no, not the one that only covered two or three journalists, including his official biographer (who also worked at the Boston Globe, one of Kerry’s biggest supporters).

    But I’ve lost a lot of interest in it, as Kerry becomes more and more and more irrelevant. But he’s still worth laughing over — the richest man in the Senate because of his second wife’s first (Republican) husband’s family’s money.

    J.

  38. Jay Tea says:

    Theresa Heinz Kerry and Arianna Huffington… two very prominent liberal women whose fame and fortune is based entirely on their Republican ex-husbands. Odd little coincidence there…

    J.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    Obama’s supporters will be voting for Obama regardless of what he did at age 22, or what he’s doing now, or what he’ll be doing over the next four years. That demographic either is voting strictly based upon skin color, or they’re still in school and clueless, or they went senile a decade ago, or they’re in a public money union and don’t want the gravy train to end for themselves, or they want to live on government largesse.

    Really? So these descriptions fit the almost 70 million people who voted for him previously? Interesting…

    It’s about portraying character.

    Oh? So one has to have some kind of military service to have a good character? Someone should tell that to Dick Cheney…

  40. mike shupp says:

    For completeness sake, you might want to add that Reagan joined the Army Reserve program in the middle of the 30’s, somewhat before military service was a publicity benefit.

  41. sam says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Please explain to me how the fact that Rick Perry flew C-130 for a few years 40 years ago is at all relevant to a Presidential race in 2012

    In Tealand, it’s all relevant.

  42. sam says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Oh? So one has to have some kind of military service to have a good character? Someone should tell that to Dick Cheney…

    Heh, last night I heard someone call Deadeye Dick the most blood-thirsty draft dodger in American history.

  43. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: Dude, you have to stop reading that old George Lincoln Rockwell stuff. It’s warping your mind more than usual.

  44. shortlegs says:

    The problem with the photo is that it is being circulated to imply that Rick was a fighter pilot in the Air Force which is not true. I don’t really care if he had a military career or not but let’s be truthful.

  45. John says:

    Anyone that’s been to pilot training knows that the picture is his “tiger Shot”. Everyone that graduates from Pilot training gets their picture taken getting into a T-38 regardless of the plane they’re assigned. The plane you end up with is determined by your ranking in your class, your preferences, and the needs of the Air Force at the time. You could be the top student in your class and end up with a cargo plane or if you came from a Guard or Reserve Unit, you flew whatever plane your unit was flying.