Joe Lavin's Humor Column
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For those of you who may have missed it (And what? You're not following the presidential election yet? It's less than 15 months away! What's wrong with you?), the story is essentially this: Presidential candidate George W. Bush (or W as he likes to be called) refuses to say whether he has ever used cocaine. After sticking with his "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible" line for months, he finally backtracked recently by boasting that he could easily pass all background checks given to federal employees. His last word on the subject was this: "I could have passed the background check and the standards applied on the most stringent conditions when my dad was president of the United States -- a 15-year period.''
Well, leave it to a Bush to answer a question in such a convoluted way. You'd think he could answer the question like a normal human being, but this was apparently his way of saying he hadn't used drugs since at least 1974. It seemed an odd response. Call me cynical, but when I'm choosing a President, I think I would prefer the candidate who at least has the common sense to lie about something like this.
Most commentators are trying to figure out why Bush is handling the questions this way, but I think I might have figured it out. Didn't he say that he wanted to make education important in his campaign? Maybe this is just his little way of doing it. Whenever he is asked about cocaine, perhaps he plans to answer in a way that makes us all have to think. This time, he did it with a two-part question. All over the country, people had to (a) remember that his father became President in 1989 and (b.) subtract 15 from 1989 in order to realize that in 1974 W may possibly have been using cocaine to help him discover his very own thousand points of light.
By the time this is over, I suspect he'll have us tackling more difficult questions to figure out when he last could have used cocaine. Soon, we will even be able to answer complex math questions about his possible cocaine use.
"A is traveling across a 15 mile lake in a canoe at 3 MPH. If at the seven mile mark, A passes W, who is traveling in the opposite direction at 1 MPH while standing up naked in his canoe smoking a crack pipe, then what year is it?"
Yes, all thanks to the Amazing W, children's test scores will jump dramatically. Take that Japan. Americans will be the best darned educated people in this here world.
Obviously, it would be nice if the media could concentrate on more substantial issues, but you can hardly blame them. It's not as if George W. Bush actually has much substance. Up until now, he has been best known for being the rich frontrunner that nobody knows anything about. It wasn't his job performance that made his early polls numbers so high. It was simply that initially many people had him confused with his father.
As for W's experience, he doesn't actually have much of that either -- just four and a half years as Governor of Texas, a state where the legislature dominates politics and where apparently the Governor's primary responsibility is to reject as many stays of execution as possible. Let's face it. Bush is still something of a blank slate, and unfortunately for him the cocaine rumors are starting to take up some valuable space on that slate.
But will Bush's apparent courting of the Republican cocaine addict vote really hurt him? Probably not all that much, considering the amount of money he has raised and the fact that a scandal-weary public seems willing to ignore something that might have happened over 25 years ago. True, he looks like a hypocrite for his tough stand on drugs, but it doesn't seem like all that many people care. And who knows? Maybe this is just part of his "big tent" policy of "compassionate conservatism." Is there room enough in that tent for both the religious right and former cocaine users?
We'll just have to wait and see, but for his sake I hope he went out and bought a really big tent.
©1999 Joe Lavin