FWIW, I'm told the story of GWB's evasion of his service obligation was widely circulated in military circles way back in the 80s.
"So the documents weren’t obvious forgeries. But they were contestable—as was almost everything, then. After all — as Robinson alludes to — this was all taking place at the same time as the multi-million-dollar Swiftboat Veterans attack on John Kerry’s war record. Essentially you had two political coalitions, one branded as pro-military, ultra-strong on defense, the other not: The “daddy party” vs. the “mommy party.” The facts be damned, it was just too discordant to have the Democratic candidate be the war hero, and the Republican candidate be the deserter. And so the facts themselves had to be changed to fit the cultural narrative. That is exactly what happened."
Trump on 9/11 similar
Getting blasted for saying Our Fearless Leader was to blame.
Like the need to dishonor Kerry's excellent record and cover up Bush's desertion, the matter of the greatest US security failure happening a full 8 months into his administration is a matter of whocouldathunkit.
And it was Bill Clinton's fault anyway.
If people really want to believe something they'll believe anything.
We were already down the rabbit hole in 2004 but that was when the bridges back to reality got burned.