big ad

kaus files dot com logo


George Bush,
Early Adopter?

Reason to be skeptical of his coke story.


Posted Wednesday, August 25, 1999

        What are journalists in Washington gossiping about? Well, there's the problem with Texas Governor George W. Bush's new final, that's-all-I-have-to-say, this-time-I-mean-it posture on his possible use of cocaine. Bush claims to have been clean for the past 25 years -- more specifically, for the 15 years before his father's inauguration in January, 1989. That takes him back to January, 1974, when he was 27 years old. Let's assume for purposes of argument that Bush did in fact use cocaine at some point (or else he'd just have issued a blanket denial and avoided the whole mess). The problem is that, for anyone who lived through the era, January, 1974 is a little early to have snorted, and even earlier to have stopped snorting. Cocaine began to become prevalent, in the well-off white world in which Bush presumably moved, in the late 70s. It was everywhere by the early 80s, and began to decline after 1985. This pattern is roughly confirmed by the government's household survey of drug use (available here), which alas only starts in 1979. In '79 about 3 percent of people aged 26-34 reported taking cocaine in the previous month; by 1985 that number had more than doubled to 6.3 percent. (See also this survey of high school seniors, which starts in '75.)

        Is it really plausible that Bush was an early adopter of cocaine, but then suddenly stopped in '74 -- and then managed to avoid temptation all during the Studio 54 era? (His famous personal religious reawakening, after which he stopped drinking, didn't come until his 40th birthday in 1986, remember.) The alternative explanation is that in recent weeks Governor Bush backed himself into a corner, from which the only way out was to lie about the dates of his coke use. And of course even those who decry the inquiry into Bush's drug use say that if he lied about it, that's a legitimate issue, and he's in deep trouble. If he were a stock, I'd short him.

        Of All People! It was also a little odd to see Rudolph Giuliani, the tough, law-and-order mayor of New York, deny he'd used coke and then go on a mini-rant about how "I regret actually having answered [the question]. It's really none of your business if I did or I didn't. ... I think this is voyeurism, not a legitimate pursuit of issues that have anything to do with anything other than hounding people who are in public office." Really? Rudy Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney, who presumably routinely caused people to be asked about what he now says is "none of your business," and convicted many of them of felonies if the answer was yes. And is this the same Rudy Giuliani who once posed in bizarre mufti while accompanying police on an undercover drug bust? Did that not have "anything to do with anything"? It's as if Giuliani said "I never robbed a bank, but it's really none of your business if I did or I didn't." ... I thought Giuliani stood for the honorable argument that in a city like New York some privacy rights -- including the right not to be hassled by the police -- must give way in the name of public safety. ... Giuliani may have been simply trying to help out Bush, whom he supports. Still. ... And what kind of signal does the "none of your business" comment send to those in the Mayor's city who might be thinking of using, or providing, the drug today? ... [Enough! We get the point--ed.]

        Recently archived:

        Yes, There is 'Evidence' Against Bush

        The Real New Journalism: Hachette Hacks at Road & Track

        Kausfiles Doesn't Get It: L.A. Pol Overplays Latino Card; Plus Gwen and Warren

        Liberals Go Back in Time: The Snipe-O-Meter Returns!

        Will Tina Fire Lucinda?

Copyright 1999 Mickey Kaus.

Gore's Secret Weapon

posted 08.03.99