Monday, February 21, 2005

Bush Tapes

Note: this blog really needs cut-tags, and I'm going to implement them Real Soon Now, but until then I apologise for the length of this post.

Shock! Surprise! According to the NYT,

The private Mr. Bush sounds remarkably similar in many ways to the public President Bush.
Imagine that! A politician who is exactly who he says he is! How twisted is that? He's pandering to the Booboisie, who naïvely think that a politician really is who he pretends to be, while wickedly deceiving the people who matter, the opinion makers, academics, and political junkies, who know from experience to look for the real person behind the mask. They've tried this on Bush for years without any real success, and now the reason is revealed: there's no there there! There's nothing behind the mask, because there's no mask.

But wait! I've got it! Bush is a moron, aseverybodyknows. He's so stupid that he can't keep his lies straight, so in desperation he simply has to resort to not lying. His veracity is proof of his lack of intelligence. That's the ticket.

Bush the homophobe

Aseverybodyknows, Bush is a terrible homophobe, his re-election, fueled by anti-gay hatred, was the biggest disaster for USAn gays since Bowers v Hardwick, and the 23% of self-identified gay voters who supported Bush are delusional self-haters ¹. Now hear the Real Bush ™ :
I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?
Of the Christian Coalition:
This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however.
And told of reports that he had pledged not to hire gay people:
No, what I said was, I wouldn't fire gays.
But, like most USAns who support gay rights but are not ideologues on the matter, he draws the line at marriage:
Gay marriage, I am against that. Special rights, I am against that
Whether marriage is an 'equal right' or a 'special right' is a debatable question, but there can no longer be any serious debate about where the President stands.


During the 2000 campaign, rumours circulated, and were reported in the national press, including the NYT, that Bush had used cocaine as a young man. What was remarkable about these claims was that they were all completely unfounded. What I mean by that is that none of them came from anybody who would have been in a position to know, had they been true. A book containing this claim was actually printed and ready to be released, when it was revealed that the author, who claimed to have known Bush at the time of his alleged cocaine use, was lying about that; the publisher cancelled the release, and pulped the book, because the claim could no longer stand up. Contrast that with Gennifer Flower's claim that she had seen Clinton use cocaine. When she said this, Clinton was still denying that she was ever his lover, but now we know that she was. That doesn't prove she was telling the truth about the cocaine, but she might have been. It's a plausible allegation, and deserved to be taken more seriously than it was. The claims about Bush and cocaine, on the other hand, have no foundation whatsoever, and it was irresponsible of the press to have reported them in the first place.

The only thing that kept them going was Bush's refusal to dignify them with a denial. I always thought that was the right attitude for him to take, that he had no business addressing any allegation until it had some sort of foundation. Now we know some of what was going on in his mind at the time:

He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. "If nobody shows up, there's no story," he told Mr. Wead, "and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up." But when Mr. Wead said that Mr. Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Mr. Bush replied, "I haven't denied anything." He refused to answer reporters' questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Mr. Bush said: "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."
This is a bit cryptic. Asked about cocaine, why is he talking about marijuana? I think this is what he's saying, between the lines: "I never did any blow, but I did some weed, and if I start addressing the whole drug issue in public, eventually they're going to ask me about that. What will I say then? I don't want to publicly acknowledge having done something like that, because of the message it would send to kids who are as immature and wild as I was back then. But if I deny the cocaine, how can I suddenly get on a high horse and refuse to answer any more personal questions? Refusing to answer will be as good as an admission. The better policy is to stand on principle from the beginning, and not answer unfounded allegations about my personal behaviour." And he's right. I disagree with him on the whole drug issue, I don't think there is anything wrong with his having used marijuana, nor that there would have been anything wrong with his using cocaine. But given his position on the issue, and the fact that as president he is personally responsible for throwing thousands of people in jail for using drugs, the attitude he takes here is perfectly reasonable.

While on the topic, here's something that bugged me during the 2000 campaign, that I would have blogged about had I had a blog then. At first, when asked about drug use, Bush said he wouldn't answer it, because his personal life before he entered politics wasn't anyone's business. So some reporters found a way to make it their business. He served in his father's administration, and therefore had to get a security clearance. One of the questions he had to answer, under oath, to get that clearance, was whether he had used any illegal drug in the past (I think) 7 years. While his actual answer was, of course, confidential, the fact that he presumably got his clearance implies that he answered in the negative; if this wasn't true, then he perjured himself, which is very much the public's business ². So he answered the question, but only to the extent that it had become the public's business. He said that he had answered the drug question truthfully, and that he had indeed not used any illegal drug within 7 years of the beginning of his father's presidency, i.e. 1982. The press immediately took this as an implicit admission that he had done so before that date. Otherwise why did he word his denial so carefully? Why not just say "I've never used an illegal drug"? I never thought this claim had any merit. His drug use (or lack thereof) after 1982 was the public's business, so he addressed it; what happened before 1982 was nobody's business but his own, and there was no reason for him to comment on it at all.

1. Question: why would self-hating gays voluntarily identify themselves as such to pollsters? Only 4% of voters said they were gay; the actual percentage is probably considerably higher.

2. Yes, I'm one of those who insisted right through the Clinton affair that the only relevant issue was perjury. I honestly didn't and don't care how many dalliances he had, in the Oval Office or outside it, nor do I care what lies he may have told the public about it. The finger-wagging "I never had sex with that woman" didn't move me; it's none of the public's business, and there's nothing wrong with lying to them about it. But I take perjury very seriously. It undermines the entire system of justice, and for a sitting president to perjure himself, particularly on his own behalf in a civil lawsuit, is to me about as 'high' as a 'crime or misdemeanor' can get.


Blogger Kang said...

Nice work Milhouse. I love how some on the Left acted like these were the Nixon tapes and the "secret Haliburton plot" was to be revealed.

Mon Feb 21, 05:17:00 PM 2005  

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