Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OK Mr. President, we know about the Booze and Pot, just fess up on the Cocaine

Yesterday, following a press briefing on the subject of teen drug abuse, President Bush reminisced about his love/hate relationship with alcohol back in the 70's and 80's. Moved by the plight of a young, drug-addicted girl, the president offered words born of his personal battle with booze:

"Your president made the same kind of choice," he told her. "I had to quit
drinking. ... Addiction competes for your affection ... You fall in love with
Following the event, Bush granted ABC News an interview, and continued to muse about the nature of his entanglement as well as his decision to go cold turkey.

"I wasn't a knee walking drunk," Bush said. "It's a difficult thing to do, which
is to kick an addiction."

... Bush said in his case, he made the
decision to quit when he realized drinking was interfering with his family.
"Alcohol can compete with your affections. It sure did in my case," Bush said,
"affections with your family, or affections for exercise. It was the competition
that I decided just wasn't worth it."
Framing his drinking in terms of addiction is something new for the president. In the run-up to the 2000 election, faced with unearthed stories of a 1976 DUI arrest, Bush described his past behavior this way:

"Well, I don't think I had an addiction. You know it's hard for me to say. I've
had friends who were, you know, very addicted... and they required hitting
bottom [to start] going to A.A. I don't think that was my case."
Perhaps he's just older and wiser now, and can distinguish one too many hangovers from a larger, more worrisome pattern. What rings true, however--for anyone who has ever personally gone through addiction, or watched a loved one suffer its throes--is the couching of alcohol dependency in terms usually reserved for a romantic affair. Type the words "alcohol" and "love affair" into any search engine and see what pops up: a few hundred thousand testimonials written by recovering alcoholics.

Not all substance abuse metaphors are the same, of course. Whereas Mr. Bush's troubles might be likened to ongoing infidelity that threatened his personal relationships (or jogging routine), Barack Obama has known the headlong rush of escapism. His admissions of drug and alcohol use describe not an addiction, per se, as much as a high school brush with a potentially destructive femme fatale. In his book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama reflects on where his behavior could have led him:

"Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the
young would-be black man. ...I got high [to] push questions of who I was out of
my mind."
His admissions of trying pot (and he did inhale) and cocaine (Mr. Bush never would say one way or the other if he had) have caused some to wonder if there's such a thing as being too honest about the past. But therein lies a media double-standard. Tell the nation everything and the press will criticize you for it. Don't and they'll dig it up anyway and call you evasive. Personally, I find both Bush and Obama's disclosures to be refreshing. We all make mistakes, and can be made better for them. In many ways, coming clean about drug and alcohol abuse mirror the admission of a secret love affair. In both matters, honesty is the way to go.

UPDATE: Clinton official says the Republican candidates will go after Obama's drug use.

Source [AOL]

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