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Winners in the ongoing "media feeding frenzy." The winning headline of the Bush Coke Crisis goes to The Australian because it was there first : "Sniff of Gossip in Bush Line on Coke." The winning one-liner goes to Washington wit Mark Russell : "Bush says he isn't going to play the rumor game -- specifically, the rumor that he was born with a silver spoon in his nose." And then there's the insightful invective by the Washington Post's Richard Cowen : "Bush is a Fifth Amendment cokehead." Finally, we cast our support behind Tom Tomorrow as the winner in the coketoon category. 8/27/99

POLITEX: BUSH HAS FIRST-TIMER MOTHER, 27, IN JAIL FOR TRACE AMOUNTS OF COCAINE. Many Texans who believe Bush used coke before his 28th birthday must consider him an opportunistic hypocrite because he purposely proposed tightening up the drug laws for first-timers in order to win votes when he ran against Governor Ann Richards in 1994. That same year, with the state prisons overflowing, " Richards signed a new penal code whose provisions included automatic probation for first-time offenders caught with a recreational quantity of drugs," writes Michael Daly in Sunday's New York Daily News. Bush was at the time campaigning to get Richards' job, but both he and Richards declined to discuss if they ever used drugs. Bush "produced a survey of Harris County prosecutors that derided the law as "Penal Code Lite."...'Those on the front lines of criminal justice agree with me in describing the new penal code as a joke,' Bush said. 'This survey should give the governor a much needed reality check.' A news report noted that Bush 'told supporters that he thinks individuals must be held accountable for personal behavior.' He did his best to make everyone forget that Richards had doubled the time violent offenders served in prison and was leading the nation in executions. He continued to hammer her for being lite on crime right up to election day. As the new governor, Bush signed a new new penal code that ended automatic probation for first-time offenders," adds Daly.

Last Tuesday a "27-year-old mother of two... appeared as a first-time offender in the 230th District Court of Harris County. The woman had been in a car with two other people in Houston when the police rolled up and announced they were illegally parked. The police would later maintain that the woman made a 'furtive movement.' 'You touch your nose, it's a furtive movement,' says her attorney, Bob Scott. The police would contend that they only searched the car and its contents for their 'own protection.' A handbag in the backseat proved to contain a glass pipe. The pipe had no visible traces of drugs, and a New York cop would have just thrown it away. These Texas cops were determined to make it their business if she had taken cocaine. They submitted the suspect item to the lab....Yee hah! The lab reported that the pipe contained cocaine 'residue.'...The woman knew without asking that pleading none of your business was not an option. She took the eight months to be served in the prison system whose ultimate boss was busy seeking the Republican nomination for president"

"As the woman began her Texas-size sentence for residue, Bush was making some decidedly furtive motions about his own possible cocaine use." Daly reminds us that Bush's "refusal to address the issue directly made him seem too much like our current President. He also sounded like somebody of a social class where you can make your indiscretions without worrying about being rousted and searched on some pretext like illegal parking." As you know, Bush eventually implied and his spinners said that he hasn't used hard drugs between age 28 and the present. He said the purpose of telling that to reporters was to indicate that he could get a clearance for a top-level job in the Clinton White House. We've since learned that Bush's statement was not correct, since the present White House form requests the applicant to fess up to any drug use since his 18th birthday. Getting back to the woman, Bush at 28 "was one year older than the woman currently in jail for residue. She will finish learning from her mistake by next spring, and by then Bush might have discovered that all his campaign millions cannot make up for his failure to give one straight answer." 8/22/99

"The most important cocaine question for George W. Bush is this: would you seek long prison terms for today's 18-year-olds for doing what you say you may or may not have done as a young man and when you now suggest that whatever you did was a mere youthful indiscretion, and thus irrelevant to your candidacy? Countless thousands of people are rotting in prisons all across America many in Texas for being caught with small amounts of cocaine or crack, its smokable variant. Many were only peripherally involved in drug sales. Some were mere users. As governor of Texas, Bush like most other politicians in both parties has joined in this orgy of punishment with enthusiasm, signing laws that toughen penalties for drug users as well as pushers, and that send juveniles as young as 14 to prison for especially serious crimes, including some drug crimes. How can he square this with his position that whether he used drugs is irrelevant to his candidacy? If Bush won't tell us whether he used cocaine or other illegal drugs in his first 28 years and there's no evidence that he did he should at least tell us whether his admitted but unspecified "young and irresponsible" escapades would have landed him in prison had the drug laws he supports been enforced against him." Stuart Taylor, Jr. in Newsweek


"Using cocaine is a crime for which many go to jail. The issue, then, is not so much what Bush did in the past but whether he is a hypocrite in the present. After all, he is tough as nails on drugs, having supported state legislation mandating jail for anyone caught with cocaine, even less than a gram. Would a bystander with the hearing of a German shepherd have heard him murmur, 'There but for the grace of God go I?' It would be nice to know. I happen to think Bush is a Fifth Amendment cokehead. If he had not used the stuff, he would certainly say so. After all, it's not as if he is such a reticent fellow. He has told us much about his past -- his drinking, his carousing, his lost youth, his meandering career path and how he gave up booze and found God. This is a stirring tale, and I am moved every time I hear it. But to quote yet another magazine (the National Review), 'If politicians want us to respect their privacy, they will first have to respect it themselves.' This, clearly, Bush has not done. He tells us, for example, that he never committed adultery but becomes indignant when the pesky press asks about cocaine use. It is an inconsistent position and leaves us all a bit in the dark: What, if anything, has Bush learned from the life he once led? Why, for instance, does he think that people who use cocaine recreationally ought to go to jail? What about marijuana or, for that matter, heroin? Does he think that if -- just if -- he once used marijuana or cocaine he should have done jail time? Can he empathize with others or, possibly, has his own experience convinced him that we ought to have jail as a deterrent? Should 600,000 people be arrested annually for breaking the marijuana laws? We would like to know." Washington Post, 8/19/99

POLITEX: BUSH PLAYING GAME OF "OBFUSCATION" ABOUT DRUGS. While Bush has told reporters that he doesn't want to play the Washington, D.C. game of "Gotcha," he wants reporters to play the Austin, Tx. game of "Obfuscation." Just as Bush says U.S. citizens are sick of "Gotcha," Politex says Texans are sick of "Obfuscation" Take Funeralgate. In a July affidavit Bush indicated that there was no need for him to honor a subpoena because he has "had no conversations with SCI officials, agents, or representatives concerning the investigation or any dispute arising from it.'' .Over a week ago the content of a brief (20 seconds, we've been told), conversation between Bush and Funeral-Home boss Robert Waltrip was quoted by Waltrip's lawyer. Neither Bush nor his spinners contradicted the specifics of the conversation, and they have said all along that the conversation had nothing to do with a citizen's suit against Texas and Waltrip. On Wednesday the lawyers for the suit claimed that, based on the quotations provided by Waltrip's lawyer, Bush filed a false affidavit regarding the conversation. On Thursday Bush "said he could not recall what was discussed" in his conversation with Waltrip. (Reuters, 8/19/99 ) Here's another. Early in the week Texas Rep. Glen Maxey (D), the only openly gay Texas legislator, told the Houston Chronicle that during the session Bush " put his hands on my shoulders and he pulled me in where almost our noses were touching, It's almost an uncomfortable level where he gets really close and personal, nose to nose. And he says to me, 'I value you as a person and I value you as a human being, and I want you to know, Glen, that what I say publicly about gay people doesn't pertain to you,' '' Bush has yet to deny Maxey's report, but Bush spinner Scott McClellan claims it never happened: ""He congratulated him on passing the Children's Insurance bill. That was the extent of the conversation.'' McClellan did not reveal the source of his information.

Now, we wonder how long it will take the nation to get sick of Bush's game of "Obfuscation." Here's how it has worked with his cocaine crisis. According to Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, "Bush has privately reassured some top supporters that his 'youthful mistakes' did not involve hard drugs and would not disqualify him to be president, according to several sources." If that's really the case, why can't Bush assure the American people? Is it because the only people that really count in Dubya's world are people with big money? Why can't Bush tell the average citizen that "his 'youthful mistakes' did not involve hard drugs"? Why is he playing "Obfuscation"? With respect to his drip-feeding of cocaine facts to the American people, few TV talk show reporters have addressed Bush's reason for providing information as he did. Those who have addressed that topic suggest that the Bush temper took over his common sense, and once the original "Not in 7 Years" story was out of the bag, Bush and the spinners spent the next 48 hours revising the story, evantually turning it into "Not in 25 Years." One scribe suggested that's what can happen at any time when Bush makes a campaign stop without one of his press spokespersons nearby. Another factor was that Bush was being pressed for an answer by the reporters and he grew angry. According to Balz, Bush's original "7 years" response was in answer to a a question about what he would do as President, not what he had done in the past, and Bush decided that it was relevant. By the following day, his spinners evolved the answer to cover the last 25 years, but Bush never said that, which is why the New York Times headline read that Bush "implied" 25 years. Wednesday and Thursdaay were filled with many statements, clarifications, and contradictions by Bush and his spinners, indicating how the game of "Obfuscation" is played in Texas. However, the final obfuscation is that Bush finally never really addressed his own question: could he pass the current White House test? Based on what Bush has said thus far, the answer is, no: "Bush's answer yesterday fell short of the standard required of senior government officials both in the Bush administration and in the Clinton administration, who must reveal drug use back to age 18," wrote Balz. Further, Bush has never addressed the specific question reporters have been asking for months: Did he ever use cocaine? "Yes" or "no" would suffice. We don't want to play the Austin, Texas game of "Obfuscation." 8/21-23/99

TEXAS TRIVIA QUESTION: How many Texas citizens age 28 or younger were arrested for use or possession of hard drugs in 1974?

TODAY'S QUOTE. "I have told the American people all I'm going to say about me and cocaine. Subject closed. Except for this one, last thing. I have stated that I didn't toot the blow for 15 years before Dad became president. That's 25 years that I'm pure as a baby's butt. At this point, I'd like to add that I didn't touch the nose candy for the first 16, hell, probably 17 years of my life! That is all I'm going to say on this issue. Anyone who isn't happy can kiss my hairy Texas [deleted]. Hey, I'm 53. Twenty-five years, plus 17 - the Bolivians haven't gone marching through my head for 42 years of my life! That's all you're going to hear on this from my sweet lips. I will, however, say this: 1964, '65 and, as far as I can recall, all of 1966 - nada! You know I speak Spanish, bucko. Who says Republicans can't be multicultural? That's all you need to know about my personal life. By the way, have I mentioned that I have never cheated on my wife? Everything else of an intimate nature is completely irrelevant and just part of a plot by my opponents to destroy my chances of living in Daddy's house. But I will say this: There was maybe a weekend in '67 for which I can't fully account for my actions. Anyone who holds that against me is a [bleep]ing [bleep]. Of course, 1970 to 1973, who the hell remembers? I've given you the blow-by-blow - I mean the gory details - of every other year of my life. I was young and irresponsible, and had a damn good time. So if anyone wants to judge me based on three, maybe four years of my 53 on God's green earth, that's their problem. If the American people don't like my position, they can go out and find someone else to vote for. That's the great thing about the American system, hombre." This is what George W. Bush should have said, according to the New York Post's Andrea Peyser.
POLITEX SAYS. What George W. Bush said is that he would furnish information about himself relevant to someone passing the clearance for a top-level job in the Bush and Clinton White House. He has not done so, because the White House specifically asks the applicant to describe one's drug experiences back to one's 18th birthday. Instead, Bush has said that if you don't like his partial answer, that's just too bad. But as folks on both sides of the aisle, folks such as Dowd, Broder, Begala, and Forbes are saying, it's not Bush's substance abuse they're ultimately concerned about, it's his lack of substance.


* "If Texas Gov. George W. Bush were applying to work at the White House instead of seeking to run it, or if he were a Cabinet nominee instead of hoping to name the next Cabinet, he could not avoid answering detailed questions about possible past drug use as he is doing now. If Bush were applying to be an FBI agent, he would have to provide detailed information about any past drug use. If he walked into a Marine Corps recruiting office, he would be asked if he had ever used illegal drugs and rejected if he refused to answer."
* ""(Bush) evidently believes that drug use as a young adult is not a disqualification for the highest office in the nation," said Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a liberal group. "If that's true, then a lot of people should be free to seek federal jobs who now feel constrained to do so." Chicago Tribune

* "It's Clintonesque," one frustrated Bush supporter said of the governor's evolving approach to discussing his past indiscretions. "He wants to be the anti-Clinton, but he's looking more like Clinton."
* "Seven years. Fifteen years. Twenty-five years," one opposition strategist scoffed in reference to Bush's shifting statements. "I guess this stuff really does screw up your memory."
* "Republicans are sick of Clinton," said another rival strategist. "The more they see of Bush, the more they're going to see Clinton." L.A. Times

* "Bush's answer yesterday fell short of the standard required of senior government officials both in the Bush administration and in the Clinton administration, who must reveal drug use back to age 18.... Republicans, even those friendly toward the governor's candidacy, doubted that yesterday's limited response would quell the controversy. 'I think it's going to lead to more and more questions,' one strategist said. Now the question is what happened between ages 18 and 28. I don't think those questions will stop until there is an answer.' " Washington Post



According to an AP report today, Bush held another press conference and said that "he could have passed stringent background checks for illegal drug use when his father was president, from 1989-1993." ASSUMING Bush meant that he would have taken the background check in January of 1989, that would mean that he's saying he hasn't used cocaine in 11 years, since he said yesterday that he hasn't used cocaine in the last seven years. However, Bush added, "Not only could I have passed in today's White House, I could have passed the standards applied under the most stringent conditions when my dad was president, a 15-year period." Of course, Poppy was only President for 4 years, and 7 and 4 equal 11, not 15. " Since "the Bush White House asked staff members if they had used any illegal drugs in the last 15 years," reporters may have ASSUMED that Bush meant those 15 years, but that's not what he said. ASSUMING Bush meant that he could have passed the 15-year drug test at the beginning of his father's presidency, that would make the total non-coke time 26 years, which is how a Bush spinner seems to have interpreted Dubya's statement: "Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said the Republican presidential front-runner was saying that he has not used illegal drugs at any time since 1974, when the 53-year-old Bush was 28." However, "Asked if Bush could have met the standard when his father was vice president, from 1981-1989, Tucker said, 'My understanding is he was answering questions regarding when his dad was president, not vice president,' leaving the actual non-coke span up in the air. What we're left with, then, is that we're sure Bush has not answered the question about cocaine use, one way or the other, prior to his 29th birthday. From age 29 on, we're in need of some clarification from Bush, not a spinner. A statement like "I didn't use hard drugs after age 29" would suffice. Until then, we're mired in waffle-talk. One way or the other, the question that has been asked for months remains unanswered, did Bush use hard drugs at any time in his life? Politex, 8/19/99



"Gov. George W. Bush, dogged by criticism for refusing to say whether he has used illegal drugs, answered part of the question Wednesday and said he had not done so in the last seven years. Mr. Bush's statement came in response to a question from The Dallas Morning News about whether, as president, he would insist that his appointees answer drug-use questions contained in the standard FBI background check. 'As I understand it, the current form asks the question, 'Did somebody use drugs within the last seven years?' and I will be glad to answer that question, and the answer is 'No,' Mr. Bush told The News....The Questionnaire for National Security Decisions, part of the background check, asks about illegal drug use going back seven years. Applicants also are asked if they have ever used illegal drugs while employed as a law officer, prosecutor or court official....FBI applicants can have used so-called hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin five times in their lives, but not during the 10 years immediately before their applications, (according to FBI Agent Rene Salinas). Applicants take lie-detector tests to verify their answers to drug-use questions....'You are required to answer the questions fully and truthfully, the questionnaire says.... Mr. Bush, the GOP presidential front-runner, would not elaborate about drug use beyond seven years ago." Dallas Morning News, 8/19/99


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