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McClellan: Bush Partied So Much, He Couldn't Remember Whether He Tried Cocaine

Submitted by smorgan on

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new book is pissing off the Bush Administration for a dozen reasons, most of them irrelevant to this blog. This passage, however, ought to replace "I didn't inhale," as the most infamous pseudo-acknowledgement of drug use in presidential history:

McClellan tracks Bush's penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.

The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite "somewhere in the Midwest." Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.

"'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'" [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

I'm almost prepared to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on this, seeing as he was speaking off the record with a supporter. It's not a context in which one would be inclined to lie. Nor is "I don't remember" a particularly flattering portrayal of one's own drug history. Really, one begins to wonder what else Bush doesn’t remember doing at these "wild parties." Let's all just pause for a moment to picture George W. Bush on acid. Yikes, nevermind.

Anyhow, in case you're wondering where I'm going with this, I'm not going to argue that you can do cocaine, party until you forget all about it, and then grow up to be just as smart and great as George Bush. A lot of people would find that argument unimpressive for a variety of reasons.

My point, rather, is that as we inevitably subject future presidential hopefuls to the usual and predictable inquisitions over their past drug use, we now have a new bottom line against which to compare their answers. From now on, all we should ask is that candidates for the job of president be able to accurately and confidently tell us what drugs they did in college. As long as you have some vague idea what you put in your body and why, you can pass the newly revised presidential drug use questionnaire.

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