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3 November 2000

Who's Clintonesque now?: Okay, it's a 24-year-old crime with no further convictions; okay, he says he's stopped drinking; so, fine: let's assume he's no danger to others now. He probably doesn't do much driving himself now anyway.

So, the crime itself should not be an issue; what should be is Mr. 'Restore Honor and Integrity' using weasel language to try and say that he has intimated enough things about his past that it should not be considered deception to have left out this specific incident.

Not even close, mister.

  • Text: Bush's DUI Press Conference [Washington Post]
    There's a report out tonight that 24-years ago I was apprehended in Kennebunkport, Maine, for a DUI. That's an accurate story. I'm not proud of that. I oftentimes said that years ago I made some mistakes. I occasionally drank too much and I did on that night.

    I have been very candid about my past. I've said I've made mistakes in the past. People know that. They've thought about that. They're making their minds up now. ... And the only thing I can tell you is is that I told the people in my state I used to drink.

So to let Bush off for not mentioning it before, one has to be able to consider the statement "I've made mistakes" equivalent to the statement "I've committed crime(s)." Or, more specifically, "I not only broke the law, I was caught, arrested, plead guilty, and paid a fine. But I won't mention it unless forced to (even though some job applications require as much disclosure) because of, you know, for the children. For the children." I don't get anything like that from "I've made mistakes." Maybe it's me.

Does "I occasionally drank too much" equal "I occasionally drank too much and drove"? No. Are we supposed to have inferred those last two words? Really? What else should we be inferring from Bush's other vague statements about his past?

As always, it's useful to consider the same thing happening to the opponent and imagining the response; I believe there would be gleeful shrieks of outrage from the Republicans at Gore's, say, "deceptions" or "hair-splitting, Clintonian dishonesty" (and they would be right) instead of the emphasis on "forgiveness" and "youthful indiscretions" that we're getting. But not when it's their guy, oh no.

Here's a nice exercise: any time a Republican refers to the DUI as an 'incident', replace that with 'arrest' or 'crime' and see if what they're saying still sounds good. Honestly, they're treating it like it wasn't even a voluntary act by Bush, which it was.

And oh yeah, Dick Cheney's had two DUIs himself. How cozy.

As is often the case, Steven Baum at Ethel the Blog digs in and finds more damning details (I'm only quoting the extra-pithy bits, but there's plenty of meat to be found there):

  • Ethel the Blog, 3 November 2000
    EXCUSE: It was a youthful indiscretion and he's more responsible now.
    REPLY: He was 30 years old at the time and had his younger sister in the car as a passenger. How responsible is that?

    EXCUSE: Bush "is a real guy who made mistakes", while Gore has done "illegal" things (brayed on Geraldo by Barbara Olson).
    REPLY: Gales of raucous laughter. The complete lack of shame of these unctuous toadies is almost endearing.

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