By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
And to think 10 days ago I wished the story about President Bush’s National Guard service would just go away.
Enter Kinko’s of Abilene, the small town of Baird and former National Guardsman Bill Burkett.
For those of you out of the loop, on Sept. 16 reports began surfacing that documents regarding President Bush’s questioned service in the National Guard were faxed to CBS news from the Kinko’s Copies in Abilene. TV anchor Dan Rather used these documents as evidence that President Bush received preferential treatment while serving in the National Guard more than 30 years ago.
Now, with the authenticity of the documents in question, and Dan Rather’s integrity on the line, the source of the documents has become a hot topic.
When someone recognized the Kinko’s of Abilene stamp at the top of the faxed documents, news outlets began to suspect one Bill Burkett, retired National Guardsman from Baird.
Baird, Texas, and the Kinko’s Copies in Abilene. What were the odds?
Actually, they were quite good judging by Abilene’s knack for finding the strangest, most obscure ways into the national spotlight.
Last year alone, a 90-year-old man from Abilene robbed a bank-his first robbery since he was in his 80s. A Good Samaritan made all the national talk shows after running into a burning house to save a child. Because of all the press, he was recognized and arrested days later for violating his parole, sending the national media swarming again.
In 2002, a baby was abducted during broad daylight from the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot, garnering a nationwide Amber Alert and more national coverage.
In 2001, ACU was one of the first places investigated for a possible anthrax contamination after the administration received a near-incomprehensible letter. This happened before anthrax scares became almost routine reports on the nightly newscasts.
I’m convinced that living in Abilene will one day make me more attractive to a newspaper and help me get a job. Because the next time some guy faxes politically sensitive documents from a Kinko’s here or a 90-year-old Abilenian robs a bank, newspapers will salivate to have a reporter who knows the area and can give them any edge on the coverage.
And something will happen; it always does. The only questions left are when will it happen and how strange will it be.
I’m betting on something to do with the election this year. Maybe the presidential race will somehow hinge on what happens in Taylor County. Or better yet, Republican or Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives will come down to what happens in our 19th District race between incumbents Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Abilene, and Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock.
The stranger it is, the better and the more likely it is to actually happen.
I’ve frequently heard it said that ACU would be an even better place if it weren’t in Abilene. I wouldn’t have it any other place.
After all, the future of my career depends on it.