Bush should come clean
September 5, 1999
Watching the controversy swirling around George Walker Bush is like trying to follow a complicated mathematical equation. I keep forgetting what the terms are.
He says, of course, that the public is tired of these political “gotcha” games, and he’s not going to play. The media pundits are saying that he’s playing his own game, using Clintonesque evasion tactics in an attempt to get off the field and into the White House before anybody notices he doesn’t have a platform.
In a time-honored American tradition, we’re pretending that we don’t care whether he did cocaine or not, we just don’t want him to lie about it. That in itself is, of course, a lie, which is why Governor Bush is evading the question.
The stupid game has already begun. He hasn’t admitted to actual cocaine use, but has said that he could pass a seven-year litmus test (or whatever that test might be), then a 15-year litmus test. I kind of stopped paying attention, but I believe he stopped at 25 years.
And didn’t he say that he hadn’t done anything at all since he was 28? No drugs, no alcohol, no sex, no strong opinions? Since then, he’s just been sitting in a comfy chair, putting his youthful indiscretions not saying that he has any, mind you behind him?
Talk radio is in an uproar. Jay Leno is making jokes. The golden boy, a shoo-in for the Republican candidacy five minutes ago, is suddenly dead meat, standing by the tracks, watching the future chug away without him.
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What’s he going to do?
Well, let’s say he gives in, and tells the public what it wants to know. Did he take cocaine or not? If he says, “No,” and he’s lying, reporters will find some aging fraternity brother who will recall doing a line or two with the candidate back in the dorm. Then he’ll really be dead meat.
So let’s say his answer is, “Yes, but that was in my youth. I’m a discreet, compassionate conservative today, whose only leisure activities are touch football with inner city teens-at-risk and number-crunching. Please, change the subject. I’m begging you.”
Well, you know we’re not going to let it go. We’re going to wonder, “How many times did you do cocaine?”
“Only on a few socially indiscreet youthful occasions. My drug use was infrequent, and I stopped it altogether after a heart-to-heart talk with God, my buddy.”
“Well, how few is few? Would that be three? Six? More than 20?”
“I wasn’t really keeping track.”
“Too stoned to remember? Was it less than 50?”
“Oh, yes. Definitely less than 50.”
Journalist scribbling: CANDIDATE MAY HAVE DONE COCAINE ON 49 SEPARATE OCCASIONS.
“Sir, on those occasions when you did abuse cocaine, sir, how many lines did you do?”
“Just a few. To fit in, you know. I’m not condoning my behavior, or excusing it, but it was in my indiscreet …”
“Well, how few is few? Would that be three lines? Six?”
“I don’t recall.”
Journalist scribbling: BUSH DOESN’T REMEMBER HOW MUCH COCAINE HE TOOK.
“How many times had the coke been stepped on, sir?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Was this the pure Colombian stuff, or had it been adulterated with baking powder?”
“Did you freebase, sir? Do crack?”
“Of course not!”
Journalist scribbling: BUSH DENIES BEING CRACKHEAD.
Boy, I don’t know. If I ever run for president, I’m sticking to marijuana, which I may or may not have indulged in in my indiscreet youth. It was the ’60s, after all. Frankly, I don’t remember. (Copyright 1999 Newspaper Enterprise Assn.)