The Sunshine Patriots

The GOP's champions of this war had a hard time finding their own way to the battlefield

George W. Bush
President
Age 58
Born New Haven, Connecticut, July 6, 1946

Military service Texas Air National Guard 1968–1973 (Removed from flight status in 1972 for failing to take annual flight physical. Honorably discharged in 1973.)

Quote "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."


Dick Cheney
Vice President
Age 63
Born Lincoln, Nebraska, January 30, 1941

Military service None

Reason Four student deferments and one deferment for married men with children.

Quote "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."


Bill Frist
Senator, Tennessee; Majority leader
Age 52
Born Nashville, Tennessee, February 22, 1952

Military service None

Reason Student deferment (Princeton 1974).

Quote "We must stay the course, keep true to our principles, have faith in our armed forces, and know that history, in the end, will be on our side."


Dennis Hastert
Representative, Illinois; Speaker of the House
Age 62
Born Aurora, Illinois, January 2, 1942

Military service None

Reason Rejected from advanced ROTC at Wheaton College for bad shoulder stemming from sports injury. A college wrestler and coach, Hastert is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Quote [Responding to ex-P.O.W. Senator John McCain's "Where's the sacrifice?" criticism of Bush's plan for wartime tax cuts.] "If you want to see the sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed and Bethesda [hospitals]. There's the sacrifice in this country."


Karl Rove
Senior White House Adviser
Age 53
Born Denver, Colorado, December 25, 1950

Military service None

Reason Student deferment (University of Utah; George Mason University—no degree).

Quote "We're fighting a different kind of war, and no negotiation can bring it to victory."


John Ashcroft
Attorney General
Age 62
Born Chicago, Illinois, May 9, 1942

Military service None

Reason Six student deferments and one occupational deferment (teaching law at Southwest Missouri State).

Quote "I would have served if asked."


Paul Wolfowitz
Deputy Secretary of Defense
Age 60
Born Brooklyn, New York, December 22, 1943

Military service None

Reason Student deferments (Cornell University 1965; University of Chicago 1972).

Quote "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."


Trent Lott
Senator, Mississippi
Age 62
Born Grenada, Mississippi, October 9, 1941

Military service None

Reason Student deferments (University of Mississippi, B.S. 1963 and J.D. 1967).

Quote "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."


Tom DeLay
Representative, Texas; House Majority Leader
Age 57
Born Laredo, Texas, April 8, 1947

Military service None

Reason Student deferment (University of Houston 1970); high draft-lottery number.

Quoted Told press in 1988 that there was no room in the military for people like himself because minority youths took all available slots to escape poverty.


Rudolph Giuliani
Ex-mayor, business consultant
Age 60
Born Brooklyn, New York, May 28, 1944

Military service None

Reason Student deferments (Manhattan College 1965; NYU Law School 1968); special deferment at request of federal judge for whom he was clerking.

Quote "Freedom is about authority."


Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor, California
Age 57
Born Thal, Austria, July 30, 1947

Military service Drafted Austrian Army; went AWOL to compete in body-building competition. Jailed for a week.

Quote "I didn't care if they locked me up for a whole year. It had been worth it." (Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder)


Rick Santorum
Senator, Pennsylvania
Age 46
Born Winchester, Virginia, May 10, 1958

Military service None

Reason Turned 18 after draft ended (Pennsylvania State 1980; University of Pittsburgh 1981).

Quote "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever, to my knowledge, included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."


Sam Brownback
Senator, Kansas
Age 47
Born Garnett, Kansas, September 12, 1956

Military service None

Reason Turned 18 after draft ended (Kansas State University 1979; University of Kansas 1982).

Quote "We are in a battle for the soul of the nation, make no mistake about it."


Saxby Chambliss
Senator, Georgia; Armed Services Committee
Age 60
Born Warrenton, North Carolina, November 10, 1943

Military service None

Reason Five student deferments (University of Georgia 1966; University of Tennessee College of Law 1968) and 1-Y medical deferment for bad knees (football injuries).

Quote "Max Cleland says he has the courage to lead. But the record proves Max Cleland is just misleading." (Campaign ad questioning patriotism of Democratic opponent Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam.)


Mitch McConnell
Senator, Kentucky
Age 62
Born Tuscumbia, Alabama, February 20, 1942

Military service Army Reserves, dismissed after serving five weeks in 1967

Reason Eye condition; student deferments (University of Louisville 1964; University of Kentucky Law 1967).

Quote "This issue ranks right up there with static cling as a matter of concern to the American people." (Calling campaign finance reform "stunningly stupid.")


Elliott Abrams
Director of Middle East Affairs, National Security Council
Age 56
Born New York, New York, January 24, 1948

Military service None

Reason Bad back; student deferments (Harvard College 1969; Harvard Law School 1973).

Quote "Our military strength and willingness to use it will remain a key factor in our ability to promote peace."


George Pataki
Governor, New York State
Age 59
Born Peekskill, New York, June 24, 1945

Military service None

Reason Student deferment (Yale 1967); medically unfit (poor eyesight).

Quote "Freedom requires hard work and sacrifice."


Michael Bloomberg
Mayor, New York City
Age 62
Born Medford, Massachusetts, February 14, 1942

Military service None

Reason Student deferment (Johns Hopkins 1964; Harvard Business School 1966); 1-Y (flat feet) 1966.

Quote "I had a great agreement with the draft board—they never called me and I never called them." (Bloomberg on Bloomberg)


Jeb Bush
Governor of Florida
Age 51
Born Midland, Texas, February 11, 1953

Military service None

Reason Student (University of Texas 1974).

Quote "We are always mindful of the many sacrifices that our brave servicemen and women make in the line of duty. But mindfulness turns to reverence during wartime, as our soldiers fight to protect our freedoms and demonstrate their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice."

And those who served:


John McCain
Senator, Arizona
Age 68
Born Panama Canal Zone, August 29, 1936

Military service U.S. Navy 1958–1981 (P.O.W. in Hanoi 1967–1973)

Quote "Victory can be our only exit strategy."


Zell Miller
Senator, Georgia (Democrat)
Age 72
Born Young Harris, Georgia, February 24, 1932

Military service Marine Corps 1953–56

Quote "Everything You Need to Know I Learned in the Marines" [autobiography subtitle]


Heather Wilson
Representative, New Mexico
Age 43
Born Keene, New Hampshire, December 30, 1960

Military service U.S. Air Force Academy and air force 1978–89

Quote "We did the right thing going into Iraq. We can't just play defense and put up barriers to protect ourselves."


Sources include Washington Monthly, Slate, Roll Call, Congressional Record, New Hampshire Gazette


Photo credits George W. Bush: White House photo by Erick Draper; Cheney: White House photo by Karen Ballard; Frist: courtesy of Senator Frist's office; Hastert: courtesy of Congressman Hastert's office; Rove: AP/Wide World; Ashcroft: courtesy of the Department of Justice; Wolfowitz: courtesy of the Department of Defense; Lott: courtesy of Senator Lott's office; DeLay: AP/Wide World; Giuliani: Gregoria Binuya/Retna; Schwarzenegger: courtesy of Governor Schwarzenegger's office; Santorum: courtesy of Senator Santorum's office; Brownback: courtesy of Senator Brownback's office; Chambliss: courtesy of Senator Chambliss's office; McConnell: courtesy of Senator McConnell's office; Abrams: Israel Hadari/newscom; Pataki: courtesy of Governor Pataki's office; Bloomberg: courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg's office; Jeb Bush: courtesy of Governor Bush's office; McCain: courtesy of Senator McCain's office; Miller: courtesy of Senator Miller's office; Wilson: courtesy of Congresswoman Wilson's office.

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