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November 3, 2005
Alito Smear #2: The Draft Dodger

CNN weighed in last night with an AP story that will probably crank up the anti-Alito smear artists on the Left for the next 24-48 hours -- the fact that Samuel Alito went into the Army Reserve rather than wait to get drafted. Faced with a low draft number, Alito chose to enlist as an officer instead and spent a few months on active duty before starting an eight-year career in the Reserves:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito joined the Army Reserve while he was a college student because his lottery number had made it likely he would be drafted for the Vietnam War, college roommates said Wednesday.

Alito was part of the Army's ROTC program during his years at Princeton -- 1968 to 1972 -- a period when the war in Southeast Asia escalated and more American men were drafted. ...

With graduation looming, the student deferment gone and Yale Law School waiting, Alito joined the Army Reserve.

"It was draft-related," college roommate Mark Dwyer said of Alito's decision. "I joined the teacher preparation program. We were all focused on the draft lottery when those numbers got called. We thought about where we were.

"Sam looked like he was sure to be drafted. He said, 'If I'm going into the Army, I might as well be an officer.'"

The AP story makes sure to give a couple of paragraphs of George Bush's now-controversial record of serving his country through the TexANG, and also mentioning Dick Cheney's student and family deferments. Although Alito is not running for office and his military service does not relate to Alito's nomination, the AP and CNN seem determined to toss anything at Alito to see if it sticks. This particular story has the added bonus of restarting the tired and long-debunked mythology of Bush's supposed "desertion".

Expect to see this get run into the ground for the next few days, as people start postulating about who got Alito into the Reserves, whether it be the Mob or some rich benefactor -- maybe Richard Mellon Scaife? -- who secretly controlled the system so that Alito could one day become a powerful jurist. The CNN headline, "Facing Draft, Alito Joined Army Reserve" already suggests that Alito chose the Reserve out of something less than a smart decision to enter the service as an officer -- for which he had already trained as an ROTC student during his undergrad years, before student deferments ended.

Needless to say, Alito's entire life shows a commitment to courageous public service, including the dangerous business of prosecuting organized-crime figures. This pseudostory on Alito's military career smells suspiciously like a chickenhawk smear, aided and abetted by the same news organizations that brought us the "covenant" story on John Roberts that turned out to be totally false, even based on its original reporting. The AP needs to determine whether it wants to keep a reputation for objective news reporting or create a new one for bias and spin that it rapidly has acquired over the past few years.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 3, 2005 7:01 AM

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