George Bush Jr., eyeing the Republican nomination, has hired a private detective to dig up dirt on the Texas Governor's past as a pre-emptive measure designed to lower the possibility of a mid-race bombshell. Bush, whose prior troubles with alcohol use is legendary, swears that he has been a faithful spouse, but has been less than forthcoming when asked about long-rumored drug use, though he has pointedly avoided denying such charges.
Asked whether he had ever used cocaine or marijuana by the British paper "Scotland on Sunday," Bush said only "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible." Far from simple youthful indiscretion, however, Bush has admitted that his "irresponsible" period lasted until his 40th birthday. Adding to the sense that he might not be truthful about his drug use, Bush also advises that parents lie to their own children about their experiences.
"The question is, have you learned from your mistakes," he said. "The answer is yes. If I were you, I wouldn't tell your kids that you smoked pot unless you want them to smoke pot. I think it's important for leaders and parents not to send mixed signals. I don't want some kid saying, 'Well, Governor Bush tried it'."
Questions about Bush's drug use, his message and the impact that it will have, both on his campaign and on his image remain.
Rob Stewart, Communications Director for the Drug Policy Foundation in Washington, DC, wondered how Bush could maintain the inconsistencies between his own life and the policies he adopts.
"Assuming that Governor Bush did in fact use illicit drugs, one has to wonder whether he believes that he would have benefited from being sent to prison. Judging by his obvious success in politics, it would be difficult to argue that prison would have been appropriate. The question, then, is why he believes that other people, people whose parents are not oil tycoons, ought to be incarcerated for their own substance use or abuse. Is he sending the message that drug use should only result in incarceration for those who get caught? Or for those whose families don't have the resources to send them to treatment, or hire expensive attorneys?"
Sandee Burbank, Director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, takes issue with Bush's admonition to parents to lie to their children.
"Governor Bush thinks that the way to keep youngsters from using drugs is to lie to them. This shows extreme disrespect for children's intelligence and natural desire to protect themselves from harm. Parents who use lies, exaggerations and scare tactics put themselves at tremendous risk of losing credibility. These tactics can lead some children to disregard serious warnings, thinking them more of the same lies."
"MAMA thinks it is better to teach children skills to evaluate the risks of all drug use and provide them with accurate information about all drugs. This will serve them far better than lies."