By Andrew Beaujon
Joe Hagan unravels the tangled tale of “the great untold story of modern Texas politics” — the story of George W. Bush’s National Guard service in the early ’70s. It’s a fascinating piece of forensics about the shadows Texas politics cast on national politics for most of the 2000s, with many names appearing in unexpected supporting roles: Harriet Miers, Margaret Spellings, Joe Allbaugh, Dan Bartlett. It’s also the story of how Dan Rather’s career ended, after CBS aired a story about the controversy based on some documents that many thought were fake. “I believed at the time that the documents were genuine,” Rather tells Hagan, “and I’ve never ceased believing that they are genuine.”
The picture Hagan produces is of an investigation that got derailed. Questions about Bush’s Guard service dogged him from the time of his first gubernatorial race onward, but it took Walter V. Robinson’s investigations in the Boston Globe to shake the dust off of them when Bush was first running for president. They bloomed again in 2004, when Bush ran for re-election.