George draws a line

Aug 25, 1999 at 12:00 am

I get no kick from cocaine.
Mere alcohol, no longer use it at all.
But one thing is perfectly true.
If I ever sniffed, I ain’t telling you.

–George W., with apologies to C. Porter

First, in the interest of full disclosure: Hillary Rodham Clinton and I have had sexual intercourse. Not, however, with each other. Hello again, boys and girls, and welcome to MediaWorld, where the trivial, trite and titillating are always what matter most.

We are gearing up for the next presidential election. The issues are potentially enormous. The Cold War has been dead for a decade, the Internet is the New World Order and – who the hell are we? What kind of nation do we want to be? What kind of world should we be striving to create? We stand on the brink of a new millennium, sleek and prosperous, chattering away on our cell phones.

Yet half the world is collapsing into ignored chaos, and even the semi-United States has millions of malnourished and neglected infants. Maniacs and alienated children blast away in school, and what, if anything, should our government do?

Now that’s all heavy, dude, right. But that’s what presidents are for, man. The leading candidate for that job is one George W. Bush, governor of Texas and, at 53, one of the first baby boomers. He was created, incidentally, when his father, later president himself, survived being shot down in the Pacific and went on to immediately a) resume studies at Yale and b) impregnate the governor’s mommy, less than two months after the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri.

Bush the son has been a very popular governor of our second largest state, and essentially has been awarded the Republican presidential nomination already, though folks like Steve Forbes and John McCain will continue to troop around for a few months.

Now, I am reasonably well informed for a provincial and know George "Dubya," as my Austin friends call him, speaks Spanish, likes locking up common criminals and eliminated the sales tax on disposable diapers in his state. But I don’t have any idea what he would do to help keep Russia from collapsing or guns out of schools.

That stuff, you see, doesn’t matter, according to the priorities of the national press corps, which a year ago was entirely focused on a very different big issue: e.g., whether or not the president fondled Monica’s breasts when he came in her mouth. (I’m not kidding; that question was really asked, more than once.)

What does matter today is the specific details of his long-ago use of drugs, specifically cocaine. Now I know he hasn’t said whether he has, one way or another, which obviously means he has indeed done at least a line or two. (Remember "there is no affair"?) When asked if he has committed adultery, Bush promptly, and firmly, says no.

When asked about drugs, however, the shrub sayeth, "This kind of collective guilt of baby boomers trying to confess on the public altar what they may or may not have done sends bad signals to your children and my children and other people’s children."

Which to me says simply, I did it.

Now you just know the Washington Post has been scrambling to find someone who has some knowledge of him doing drugs, ta da ta da ta da. Who gives a longhorn’s ass? Frankly, I do not see much Detroit has in common with Dubya. He strikes me as being by, of and for mostly the wrong people – speculators, the oil crowd and the nut religious right.

Even though I am a left-wing maniac, I have no use for drugs and never tried cocaine. Yet incredibly, what Dubya says is exactly right, no matter how self-serving his reason. "I just decided that rather than play gotcha politics and try to answer a negative, I wasn’t gonna participate," he tells the national press.

That’s the best answer to all of this. Later, he did say he had not used drugs within the last seven years, which ought to be good enough. (Yes, I think the media should fry him if this is a lie, especially if he did any since becoming governor in 1995.)

Unfortunately, I doubt he will stick to it. The press constantly wheedles for more, and the Bushies have been dropping little morsels of information, which is too damn bad and pretty damn stupid. A few drops of blood in the water never appease sharks.

Just say no. We have succeeded in turning our public life into a pornographic movie, and as much as I hate helping politicians bash the media, it is pretty much our fault.

What’s the solution? Every news agency in this nation should agree not to publish any damaging details about a candidate’s purely private life – apart from felony convictions – that are more than a decade old, unless grave national interest requires exception.

Granted, such a policy might require us to go back to harder work, looking at current performance and positions and financial ownership. I’d much rather know who lines Bush’s pockets today than where his nose and other parts were in 1975.

Will that ever happen? What I fear is if we don’t shape up, someday, somehow, somebody will take steps to make it happen. Which would be the most dangerous drug of all.