A lot has been made today of the revelation of tapes of George W. Bush prior to becoming president, secretly recorded by Doug Wead, a former Assemblies of God minister who was acquainted with the President. Personally, I don’t think it’s so much a case of startlingly frank admissions secretly recorded, as it is an indication that strategies had already been discussed and established for the George Bush presidency.
First, I don’t think anyone seriously doubts (or has doubted) that Bush used marijuana and coke along with his early alcohol “youthful indiscretions,” so the marijuana admission is not big news, but what is interesting is the notion of establishing an approach where “truth” is considered improper.
Check out the recording as reported in the NY Times:
Mr. Bush, who has acknowledged a drinking problem years ago, told Mr. Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it involved nothing more than “just, you know, wild behavior.” He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. “If nobody shows up, there’s no story,” he told Mr. Wead, “and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up.” But when Mr. Wead said that Mr. Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Mr. Bush replied, “I haven’t denied anything.”
He refused to answer reporters’ questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Mr. Bush said: “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”
He mocked Vice President Al Gore for acknowledging marijuana use. “Baby boomers have got to grow up and say, yeah, I may have done drugs, but instead of admitting it, say to kids, don’t do them,” he said
Now check out a drug policy approach that was promoted by Bush’s drug czar a couple of years later:
DRUG CZAR: JUST SAY NO ABOUT DRUG USE
Don’t Worry If It’s A Lie, Parents Told
Note to boomer parents: It’s OK to lie to your children about your youthful drug use, the federal drug czar said Thursday in New Orleans.
“They’re your kids, not your confessors,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.æ “Don’t treat them like your peers.æ Treat them like your children.” [emphasis added]
The Drug Czar’s specific guidance received very little positive press, so it was quickly dropped (the current line is “It’s not your father’s marijuana”), but the notion of avoiding “truth” as an approach has been a hallmark of the national drug policy under Bush.
Update: Good discussion in the comments regarding the key issue here. MSNBC contacted me Monday about appearing to talk about this blog entry, but the segment got cancelled at the last minute. So close… However, they seemed interested in a possible future appearance. I’d love to get in a good debate on the drug war.