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Jewish World Review June 15, 1999 /1 Tamuz, 5759

David Corn

David Corn
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George W. owes Bubba big --
How many times have you heard a Clintonphobe brand the President a dope-smoking this or that? All those GOPers and conservatives who once were incensed that Clinton toked now donít seem to give a hoot whether Bush the Younger lit up, did lines or popped. Allowing W. to skip out on the did-you-do-drugs question, the party has embraced him as the prodigal son. Letís call this progress, a sign that uptight Republicans have eased up on their obsession with drugs.

Still, has Bush really dodged the Big-D bullet? Heís tried to grant himself blanket immunity, saying he had his wild days but that when he turned 40, he cast off the booze, went born-again. Drugs, though, are not part of his self-confession. When queried on the subject, he does a Texas two-step.

Diane Sawyer last month asked Gov. Bush why he wonít address the matter, and he replied, "Because thereís a Washington game that tries to get people like me to chase every rumor. See, the game is to try to destroy somebodyís reputation and what I am going to tell people is that 20 to 30 years ago I made mistakes, but what people need to know about me is that Iíve learned from my mistakes. And there needs to be a consistent message from people in my generation that says to kids, drugs will destroy your life, abusing alcohol will destroy your life."

Itís only out of concern for the kids that he wonít play this "Washington game."

How considerate.

But, for merely argumentís sake, assume Bush was a fierce cokehead during the high-flying oil-boom days of the 1980s, then he learned to say no and becomes president of the United States. Thatís a great story. Itís inspirational. It tells children that even if you stray into the dark corners of recreational drug use you still can grow up, shake the habit and be president. Thatís much more believable than the lie that all drug use is evil, wrong and destined to ruin your life.

Bush could deliver a real-life message regarding drugs, but heís being too coy. Shortly before he told Sawyer he wouldnít participate in the game of drug-use gotcha, he said to USA Today, "Iím not ready for rumors and gossip. Iím ready for the truth. Surely people will learn the truth." If Bush wants the truth to beat out rumor, that can be achieved easily. All he has to do is spill it. If he wants the public to know the truth about his drug use -- and not the rumors (and there is plenty of delicious but unconfirmed chitchat on this front) -- he can arrange that.

After this nation was subjected to too many details about Clintonís private amusements, it would be natural if many Americans were disinterested in W.ís past personal behavior.

But Bush has not shied away from making the personal behavior of others a political issue. A year ago when he spoke before conservatives in Los Angeles, he noted that 30 percent of all births in Texas were in single-mother families, and he called these families "fatherless, jobless and G-dless."


Whoís playing judge here? Was he saying that out-of-wedlock children are damned? Must one be married to live within the loving embrace of G-d? In the same speech, Bush said, "We are living in a time of moral indifference. I advocate abstaining from sex until you find your right life partner." Now that heís married, he wants there to be no sex among the unmarried. If he wants to be elected national preacher, itís fair to wonder how his past walking holds up to his current talking.

JWR contributor David Corn, Washington Editor of The Nation, writes the "Loyal Opposition" column for The New York Press.


06/10/99: Youíre Okay, Iím Running For Senate
06/04/99: Gore to South Africans: Drop Dead
06/02/99: Gone Fishiní
05/28/99: Itís in The Water
05/26/99: Pistol-Whipped
05/20/99: Combat Pay
05/19/99: Meet the New Boss
05/14/99: A 37-Year Losing Streak
05/12/99: Funds Before Guns
05/07/99: Missing In Action
05/05/99: Gun Shy
04/30/99: A Flyover War
04/28/99: Darwin Made Me Do It
04/16/99: Spin to Sell
04/16/99: No Controlling Authority
04/16/99: Damage Done
04/14/99: No Left Churn
04/12/99: Clintonís Policy Bombs
04/09/99: A Cuban Frost
04/05/99: Coups and Fibbers
03/31/99: The Flynt Fizzle
03/24/99: Liddy and St. Steve
03/19/99: Hope in Hollywood
03/12/99: Clinton: The Novel
03/08/99: A Tale of Two Clintons
03/04/99: ..and Dumber
03/01/99: Post-Mortem Ad Nauseam
02/25/99: Whatís Next?

©1999, David Corn