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What If It Wasn't Coke?

LSD? Heroin? If Bush
Won't Say, Who Knows?


Posted Sunday, August 29, 1999

        Public speculation about Texas Governor George W. Bush's youthful substance abuse has more or less assumed the drug in question is cocaine. But when Bush talks about the subject (or refuses to talk about it) he does not specify the chemical about which he is or isn't talking. Instead he discusses his youthful "mistakes," and whether he could pass background checks about "using drugs." Bush is clearly hiding something. Yet, as noted in a previous posting, if cocaine is the drug in question, then Bush's claim that he didn't use it after January, 1974 would reveal him as something of a drug pioneer, since cocaine use didn't become widespread until a couple of years later.

        All of which leads to an obvious, yet overlooked, question: what if it wasn't coke? What if Bush is telling the truth about the dates of his drug use, but the drug he took prior to '74 was some other illegal substance? What if it was LSD (much more visible in the late 60's youth culture than cocaine)? What if it was amphetamine or -- this would be too good to be true -- heroin?

        Note how this theory, at least its acid/smack variant, makes sense of some of Bush's actions. In particular, it would explain why Bush did not simply reveal early on that he took whatever drug he took, secure in the knowledge that he'd be rewarded for his candor and forgiven by the voters. That simple strategy would almost surely work with cocaine, but Republican primary voters might be less forgiving if Bush confessed to trying heroin, which is both more terrifying and less familiar. And with LSD, all bets would be off. Voters would wonder, not whether Bush was right to flout the law, but whether he scrambled his brain.

        I don't subscribe to this theory myself -- my guess is still that the drug was cocaine and Bush is lying about the dates. (It's also possible, of course, that he's telling the truth about the dates and was indeed an early adopter of coke.) But the LSD/heroin theory, currently making the rounds in Washington, is the sort of speculation that will persist until Bush actually answers the pre-1974 drug question. If he and his advisers think they've stumbled into a posture that will put the drug issue to rest, as Robert Novak reports they do in his most recent column, they're hallucinating.

        Note to conscientious citizens: Many voters (such as those gathered in the focus group pollster Frank Luntz staged for ABC's "This Week") believe there are more important issues in the campaign than Bush's drug use. They're right. But Bush's drug history, and how he's handled it, are relevant to his fitness for office. More important, even if they aren't relevant, they're intriguing puzzles. Which is why reporters are still speculating about their possible solutions, in private if not in public, and why pledges, heroically, to keep on speculating about them! It's fun! Why wait for some Yale historian in 2025 to get tenure by proving that President George W. Bush did/did not drop acid? If it's worth discussing then, it's worth discussing now.

        Recently archived:

        George Bush, Early Adopter?

        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