Karl Rove's Draft Deferment

The Salt Lake Tribune has a prominent article questioning Bush campaign Honcho Karl Rove's student deferment that allowed him to to avoid being drafted for three years of the Vietnam War. [link via Buzzflash.]

Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments....[Rover's]draft record and accounts from friends reveal a young man who didn't necessarily agree with the war and managed to avoid being drafted.

Rove's friend and classmate back then, Mark Gustavson, now a Salt Lake City attorney, says:

Far from being a conscientious objector, Gustavson recalls, Rove's opposition to the war was political. He considered the conflict a "political skirmish that was not being properly administered."

Here's the nuts and bolts of Rove's draft status and deferment:

Rove graduated from high school in the spring of 1969 and in June was reclassified 1-A, available to be drafted. Rove enrolled that fall in the University of Utah. In December the Selective Service System held its first lottery drawing in which numbers were assigned to potential draftees based on their birth dates. The lower the number, the more likely it was the young man would be drafted.

Rove received number 84, or within the top one-fourth of the 365 numbers. It would turn out that the highest lottery number drafted from this group was 195, according the Selective Service, putting Rove's number deep within those that could be drafted.

After that, he took a military physical and passed, and a few months later, got the student deferment. Deferments required students to be registered full time. Rove may only have been a full-time student during one of his two years at school. But he kept his deferment.

Rove then moved to D.C. to work for the RNC. He enrolled in school in Maryland and was supposed to notify his Utah draft board of the transfer. His letter never got there.

"To this day, it is unclear to Mr. Rove what happened to the letter," Schmidt says. "He turned it in to the university. But whether it was lost in the mail or arrived late, the draft board did not get it in time and the deferment was not renewed."

Next, Rove withdraws from school in Maryland to work full-time for the RNC. He gets reclassified again:

...he was reclassified as 1-A, available - extended priority, Schmidt says, meaning he could be drafted ahead of everyone else. For four months, Rove was exposed to the draft, but was not called.

Then he got reclassified one more time....

... his risk of being drafted ended on April 27, 1972, when Rove was reclassified again as 1-H, or "not currently subject to processing for induction." According to Selective Service records, the names of 4.4 million men, along with Rove, essentially were placed at the bottom of draft lists between January and August of 1972..... The last man inducted entered the Army on June 30, 1973, according to the Selective Service.

Actually, having waded through the entire article, it doesn't seem like there is much of a story here. The same way there is no story here. Or here. Both are distractions from the real issues facing voters, thus falling right at the front of Karl Rove's playbook.

On a related note, Kitty Kelly was just on C-Span. Among the points she made, according to a TalkLeft reader:

  • Bush went to AL because he was getting into a lot of trouble in TX (had nothing whatsoever to do with Guard Service. No one saw him in AL Guard because he never showed up at Guard Base - despite the questinable records of drills he supposedly did there.). This was also confirmed recently in Salon article on wife of longtime Bush family friend from AL.
  • She referred to the White House Press Corps as "stenographers".
  • Bush Sr. had done over 100 press conferences by this time in his Presidency, whereas Bush Jr. has done 12?

Again, both sides can play this game. But it will be the voters will lose.

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