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Obama at Harvard:
The Sunday New York Times has this interesting profile of Barack Obama's time as a law student.
Waldensian (mail):
Wow. Pretty thin article. Perhaps next we'll learn about his kindergarten days and how they foreshadow a selfish power grab as President, like that day he took two cookies before naptime.

If he really wants to impress me, healing the wounds at the Harvard Law Review won't do it. Even bringing peace to the Mideast as President of the United States wouldn't mean much.

He needs to bring peace to Dartmouth. :)
1.27.2007 10:10pm
Jeremy T:
Was this before or after his coke-snorting?
1.27.2007 10:15pm
Tollhouse:
Surrounded by students who enjoyed the sound of their own voices, Mr. Obama cast himself as an eager listener, sometimes giving warring classmates the impression that he agreed with all of them at once.

Ugh, another Clinton in the making.
1.27.2007 10:22pm
Visitor Again:
A crib from a Los Angeles Times story, which ran a day earlier. Click here to read "Early on, Obama showed talent for bridging divisions" by Richard A. Serrano and David G. Savage
1.27.2007 10:24pm
fffff:
Was this before or after his coke-snorting?

You mean Bush's? I think he said he was clean for at least seven whole years before he took office, so -- what, 1993?


Ugh, another Clinton in the making.

Yes, the proper measure of a President is how well and how often he struts around in a flight suit and declares victory in Iraq. Remember, "Mission Accomplished!"
1.27.2007 10:46pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
You mean Bush's? I think he said he was clean for at least seven whole years before he took office, so -- what, 1993?

That's what he says, but the nomination of Myers for the Supreme Court suggests he still fell off the wagon now and then.
1.27.2007 11:14pm
MnZ (mail):
I like and respect Obama. He seems like a wondeful person and very intelligent. However, I found the thinness of this article to be emblematic of a major question about Obama. Namely, what evidence do we have that he would make an effective President? He was a State Senator for 8 years and has been a US Senator for a little over 2 years. Prior to that, his experience is primarily as a civil rights lawyer and a community activist. His resume certainly doesn't overwhelm.

Moreover, I really don't understand why many Democrats are convinced that Obama is the one to win back the White House. If memory serves me correctly, he has only run in 2 competitive political campaigns in his life. The first was for the Democratic nomination to the US House in 2000. (He lost.) The second was for the Democratic nomination to the US Senate. (He won.) Furthermore, he has never run against a serious Republican opponent.

Maybe Obama will prove me wrong, but for now, call me an Obama skeptic.
1.27.2007 11:46pm
Lev:
If Obama is so good at bridging gaps, let's have him bridge the gap between the Harvard faculty members who got the vapors when Summers suggested it might be worth investigating whether men and women and different, and, Summers.
1.28.2007 12:11am
Gonerill (mail):
when Summers suggested it might be worth investigating whether men and women and different, and, Summers.

Seems like you ran into a few vapors yourself there, Lev.
1.28.2007 12:45am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
"Was this before or after his coke-snorting?"
"Ugh, another Clinton in the making."

These were predictable. But with such swift-footedness! Yeats would beam.
1.28.2007 1:06am
Tollhouse:
Well I was serious. Is it a positive trait that someone can appear to be everything to everyone? I wouldn't think so. Clinton seemed to have this ability to appear to be supportive of everything that came his way. There was confusion in the state due to this. It's the opposite of leadership.
1.28.2007 1:19am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Obama will not be running against Bush, ffff. That is at least one thing we know for sure.

He will be running against Hillary, Richardson, Biden, and a host of others with considerably more credentials. Why not stay on topic?
1.28.2007 1:57am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Is it a positive trait that someone can appear to be everything to everyone?"

It's positive for him. But let's remember Zelig.
1.28.2007 1:59am
fffff:
These were predictable. But with such swift-footedness! Yeats would beam.

Yeah, its almost like they were all reading the same playbook.

He will be running against Hillary, Richardson, Biden, and a host of others with considerably more credentials. Why not stay on topic?

Thank you for defining the topic for me. I appreciate that. I'll make sure only to speak on the issues as you've defined them. Well done; very much in keeping with Our Dear Decider's style.

No, seriously, Jeremy and Tollhouse smeared him on issues that have little or nothing to do with his merits as a Presidential candidate, and they deserved to be called out on it. Those issues are no more or less relevant to a capacity for leadership than, say, Giuliani's personal life (i.e., not relevant at all, in the least). But, while we're at it, why is it that you think the sitting President's use of cocaine is less relevant than a potential Presidential candidate's? And why don't you bother to mention Brownback and Jeb as the other possible candidates?
1.28.2007 3:42am
A. Zarkov (mail):
I read parts of his book and found no new ideas. He complains that the salaries of the non-rich have not kept up with inflation. His solution-- raise the minimum wage. Now I might have missed something important, so I hope something exciting emerges in the future. But thus far I don't see much to distinguish him from the pack.
1.28.2007 4:32am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Only two sitting US senators have ever been elected president, Harding and JFK. It's doubtful that JFK even won the election according to Seymour Hersh in his book "The Dark Side of Camelot." See the chapter "The Stolen Election." In general senators have no executive experience, so we elect governors, vice presidents or in rare instances generals. While Bush II was governor of Texas, that particular governorship actually provides only meager executive experience, and as is obvious by now, the country got stiffed. If the past is any guide, the next president will not be any of the senate hopefuls.
1.28.2007 4:43am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"… why is it that you think the sitting President's use of cocaine is less relevant than a potential Presidential candidate's?"

If you have credible evidence that Bush was or is a cocaine addict, then share it with us. James Hatfield who wrote "Fortunate Son" makes accusations from unnamed sources. That's no proof. Hatfield himself first denied he had spent five years in jail and then confirmed it. His publisher withdrew the book. Later he died from an drug overdose in an apparent suicide. Other accusations that I know of are mere speculations or instances of an overactive imagination. Is he somehow supposed to prove he wasn't a cocaine addict?
1.28.2007 5:31am
Federal Dog:
The thing that impresses me most about Obama was his bold birth as an African-American to two professional parents (which, of course, preceded his daring double-major as an affirmative action admit at Columbia).


If this is as close as democrats can come to hagiography, it's damned thin gruel. Presidential material indeed.
1.28.2007 7:36am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The thing that impresses me most about Obama was his bold birth as an African-American to two professional parents (which, of course, preceded his daring double-major as an affirmative action admit at Columbia).

And this disqualifies him for president more than being the son of a President/oilman and grandson of a senator (who continued to have dealings with the Nazis well after it was fashionable) and was a legacy admit (affirmative action for the children of alumni) at Yale.

If you have credible evidence that Bush was or is a cocaine addict, then share it with us.

Oh come on, Obama has admitted he used cocaine in the past. Bush refuses to discuss his youthful indiscretions (although "youthful" is a bit of a stretch) but he admits that he had a serious problem with alcohol (although he has never admitted to being an alcoholic) and there is plenty of evidence that he used drugs.

He was a State Senator for 8 years and has been a US Senator for a little over 2 years. Prior to that, his experience is primarily as a civil rights lawyer and a community activist. His resume certainly doesn't overwhelm.

And George W. Bush was half way through his second term as Governor of Texas (a weak governor state) when he was elected to that. Prior to that, his experience was primarily driving one business after another into bankruptcy and being saved from personal financial disaster by friends of his father. His resume certainly didn't overwhelm. Then again, his performance as president has certainly followed the pattern of the rest of his life.
1.28.2007 8:20am
Federal Dog:
"And this disqualifies him for president more than being the son of a President/oilman and grandson of a senator (who continued to have dealings with the Nazis well after it was fashionable) and was a legacy admit (affirmative action for the children of alumni) at Yale."


Take a deep breath, then point to the dozens of pseudo-hagiographic accounts of Bush's "compelling life story" being shoved down everyone's throat by the mainstream media.
1.28.2007 9:21am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"and there is plenty of evidence that he used drugs."

What evidence?
1.28.2007 9:36am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
So based on the comments so far, it looks like the best argument for Obama to be elected seems to be "He's at least as good as our image of Bush." Not a good sign for him, IMO. Just back off and let him self-destruct guys... he's not a serious candidate.
1.28.2007 9:57am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
then point to the dozens of pseudo-hagiographic accounts of Bush's "compelling life story" being shoved down everyone's throat by the mainstream media.

No, we were just fed an endless stream of crap of him being a swaggering ("in Texas we call it walkin"), plain-spoken, self-made, successful businessman and rancher from Texas. Not what he really was: a prep-school brat from Kennebunkport, Maine who had presided over a string of failed business ventures.
1.28.2007 9:58am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yes, JF... and that's why you didn't vote for him. We get it. You don't like him.
1.28.2007 10:09am
Justin (mail):
Next, I'll learn my alma mater is an extremist Islamic Madras.
1.28.2007 10:09am
Justin (mail):
errr, oops, he did Columbia undergrad. Harvard might as well be an Islamic madras for all I care :-P
1.28.2007 10:10am
Loki13 (mail):
Hi there,

Before the thread spins out of control (..but Obama... but Bush .... but Clinton) try and focus on the subject of the thread itself- Obama.

Is his bio a little thin? Why, yes! But it is possible to have thin biography, or a history of failure (W. Bush, Truman, Lincoln) and still get elected.

Does his history of election success concern people? Definitely. This would be my biggest concern. He has 1/2 in competitive races, and has never had a true Republican dirt machine turned against him. His true character has never been tested, and the Presidential stage is not the best forum for your first test.

Is he all things to all people? Well, no. He does have the ability to compromise, which some see as a weakness or (ahem) being Clinton-line. Others might see it as being more of a uniter than a divider. Sticks and carrots can be equally effective.

I think the reason that Obama is appealing to many is that he represents a hopeful, uniting vision for America. A person who can get conservative and liberal law school students at Harvard to agree is not someone to be easily dismissed. Whether or not you support the current administration, there is the feeling that the country is greatly divided. I hope that both the Democratic and Republican party field candidates that give us a hopeful vision that all Americans can share in.
1.28.2007 10:17am
Aaron:
Loki13:
"A person who can get conservative and liberal law school students at Harvard to agree is not someone to be easily dismissed."

Hell, we can't get conservative and liberal commenters to agree on this blog.

If Obama can heal the Volokh divide, it would prove a great deal as to his viability for president...
1.28.2007 10:43am
Porkchop (mail):
Don't overlook his appeal to young voters, many of whom have not formed really strong political views. In addition, my 18-year-old daughter (a registered voter) tells me that Obama is "hot." She asserts that this opinion is widely shared among the MTV generation, particularly young women. There was, I vaguely recall from my youth, a similar fascination with JFK, although I think he was "cool" rather than "hot."
1.28.2007 10:49am
Kovarsky (mail):
Porkchop,

I think Obama is considered by the high school set to be "cool and hot."

[cue cliched blow jokes].
1.28.2007 11:45am
MnZ (mail):

A person who can get conservative and liberal law school students at Harvard to agree is not someone to be easily dismissed.


Obama seems good at helping people find common ground. In my opinion, this trait is more of an asset for a legislator than an executive.


This would be my biggest concern. He has 1/2 in competitive races, and has never had a true Republican dirt machine turned against him. His true character has never been tested, and the Presidential stage is not the best forum for your first test.


The more I think about this issue - the more worrisome it becomes. Not only does it make Obama a risky Presidential candidate, it makes him a risky President. The campaign (and the dirt) doesn't stop for Presidents after they win.
1.28.2007 11:50am
Kovarsky (mail):
Loki13,

You always phrase things very well.

Justin, was that Madras joke "self-aware," or are you actually still invoking that story.
1.28.2007 11:50am
Justin (mail):
I was joking - invoking the myth because it was so absurd and obviously untrue.
1.28.2007 12:10pm
Federal Dog:
"If Obama can heal the Volokh divide, it would prove a great deal as to his viability for president..."


Oh, for pity's sake! If people need "healing," they should consult with a therapist or physician. The president is the commander in chief, not the nation's group therapist.

Sheesh. What pushes people to look to the damned government for bloody therapy?
1.28.2007 12:30pm
fffff:
Bush's own statements strongly imply that he used cocaine. Its very difficult to credibly square those statements with a conclusion that he did not use cocaine in light of those statements. (FWIW, Obama has the honesty to come out and admit his past drug use.)

There is also affirmative evidence of Bush's drug use: his former sister-in-law has said Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was President, and not just once either." The conclusive evidence of Bush's drug use is limited because of the our press simply gave him a pass on the issue.

Now, I really don't think long-past drug use is a terribly important issue (except to the extent it might reflect a propensity towards behavior that's illegal, or a propensity to cover up minor misdeeds). What is important is whether our leaders make policy that's good for the country (or, for instance, start invasions on thinly-evidenced pretenses that turn out to be totally unfounded, and do lasting damage to the American economy and our influence abroad). I think several of the commentators here care more about their "team" winning than advancing the country's interests.
1.28.2007 12:50pm
Loki13 (mail):
Federal Dog,

I think you misunderstand the point. The current administration has specialized in winning elections by 'driving the base'. This strategy, by definition, works best by using wedge issues to alienate the other side and keep the moderates home &away from the polling places.

I would like to see candidates who seek to emphasize the common interests of all Americans, not seek to drive us apart. I'm not saying that Obama is that candidate. But Americans would be better served by a Republican and a Democratic candidate who agree on the common interests and goals that all Americans share, and then give us their respective plans for how to best accomplish that task. I'm more interested in competing visions for the future of a strong and prosperous America, not more gay marriage fear-mongering that ends up amounting to nothing once the votes have been tallied.

...just call me a dreamer. But wouldn't you like a candidate that offers you hope for the future (this is Obama's tump card) rather than a candidate who is repeatedly telling you, "I'm not Bush!" or "I'm not Clinton!".
1.28.2007 12:53pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think you're mistaken, loki. I don't think candidates failing to agree on "common interests that all Americans share" is the problem. They do, otherwise it wouldn't be much of an election. The problem is that there's a lot of issues that Americans are genuinely divided over, and a "healing president" that vows to put an end to "gay marriage fear-mongering" isn't the solution.
1.28.2007 1:08pm
Loki13 (mail):
Daniel,

I respectfully disagree. Polarization hass long been a staple of politics, especially in regional elections. But as a general rule, in national elections candidates have been able to offer an inclusive message for the nation since the advent of mass media (cue Reagan's "Morning in America"). The Rove/Bush team, however, decided to focus a national election on issues that would turn out their base and alienate everyone else.

I will not argue with their electoral success, but I believe that it has divided, not united, our nation.

I think gay marriage is a perfect example of this. The GOP, at their top levels, has no real visceral dislike for civil unions (cue Cheney, Mehlman, Bush as governor etc.) Their was no intention to actually *do* anything about it (how's the Amendment going). But... it was a great way to get social conservatives to the polls, while keeping moderates at home (due to the mudslinging on both sides).

I do not want to see a repeat of this in 2008. I want to see issues that will really affect me, debated by people who have an intention to do something about them. I want a candidate (from EITHER party) who will get Americans to rally behind him (or her) with a vision for the future. We're all in the same boat, after all is said and done. I'd like a candidate who reminds us that we get farther when we row together.
1.28.2007 1:20pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
So you'd support a candidate who encouraged gay rights litigants/activists to walk away from the marriage debate in the interest of national unity?
1.28.2007 1:36pm
fffff:
I think you misunderstand the point. The current administration has specialized in winning elections by 'driving the base'. This strategy, by definition, works best by using wedge issues to alienate the other side and keep the moderates home &away from the polling places.

I'm pretty sure nobody misunderstood you, Loki:


The thing that impresses me most about Obama was his bold birth as an African-American to two professional parents (which, of course, preceded his daring double-major as an affirmative action admit at Columbia).


It is certainly a tradition in America to blame people for their background. And Obama needs to be held personally accountable for his role in setting up affirmative action. Certainly, there's nothing he's managed to do that's impressive -- they pass senatorships like toilet paper these days. (Now, it doesn't help that the New York Times' article is a puff piece, rather than a serious investigative article that would help critical readers decide whether Obama has merit as a candidate, but that's hardly Obama's fault.)

Seriously, partisans find something to complain about any candidate the other side fields. We're just now in the silly season where they're experimenting with what they can get to stick. (Its obvious nobody here is exactly Karl Rove.) These people are more concerned about having their party in power than the country's best interests. This behavior has lead to some serious damage to the country in the last 7 years.
1.28.2007 1:39pm
QED:
If Obama had been all white rather than half-black, given what is known about affirmative action date, it's likely that he wouldn't have gotten into Harvard Law. Moreover, if he had been all white, it's likely he would never have become a public figure.

Indeed the fascination with him is ultimately a reflection of white racism and guilt. A black guy who can speak like a white guy and who has some intelligence so floors white liberals that they're ready to stand on line, bend over, and "toot his horn".
1.28.2007 1:57pm
fffff:
And yet he was elected president of Harvard Law Review, which suggests that he most certainly did belong at Harvard. You can disagree with affirmative action (I do, actually), but that's hardly Obama's fault.

Maybe your fascination with him is a reflection of your white guilt, but -- to the extent I like Obama -- I like him because he's a moderate who appears to me to be genuinely more concerned about the country than the Democratic party's interest. But keep up with the divisive politics, guys -- the only person left standing will be Hillary. You might say she's too divisive to get elected, but remember Reagan got elected that way too.
1.28.2007 2:05pm
Mark Field (mail):

However, I found the thinness of this article to be emblematic of a major question about Obama. Namely, what evidence do we have that he would make an effective President? He was a State Senator for 8 years and has been a US Senator for a little over 2 years. Prior to that, his experience is primarily as a civil rights lawyer and a community activist. His resume certainly doesn't overwhelm.


His resume is nearly identical to that of the first IL President.

It's interesting to compare the formal "qualifications" of winning and losing Presidential candidates. Aside from the fact that a "qualification" is very much in the eye of the beholder, America hasn't always elected the "more qualified" candidate. Here are some pairs with the "more qualified" (in formal terms) candidate listed first; ask yourself if we actually would have been better off with him:

1. Adams/Jefferson*
2. Adams/Jackson
3. Douglas/Lincoln
4. Taft/Wilson
5. Hoover/Roosevelt
6. Nixon/Kennedy
7. Carter/Reagan

*Jefferson was, of course, exceptionally well-qualified for the Presidency. John Adams is perhaps the only person in US history who had even more formal qualifications.

It's very interesting that the actual winners are frequently listed among our very best Presidents.
1.28.2007 2:19pm
Loki13 (mail):
Daniel, to answer your question... I would support a candidate who would try to accomplish what he promised.

It was my belief that gay marriage was the #1 (or #2 with terrorism, depending on the day and the audience) threat to the nation. So... what happened? Either it's a big deal, and they should be doing something about it....

Or it's not, and it was a cynical wedge issue used to drive the base. Of course, most political observers knew it was the latter considering the large number of gay people in the Republican establishment in DC.

It's amazing that a professed belief desire that both parties field candidates that offer a vision for America is somehow objectionable. It's even more amazing that people now defend craven political manipulation, so long as 'their' party is the one doing it. Gay marriage for the GOP, social security for the Dems, didn't the poterity of the nation used to matter more than political affiliation?
1.28.2007 2:21pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Another thing... before we annoint him the "moderate" of the field, has anyone bothered to line up his voting record next to Hillary or Edwards?
1.28.2007 2:32pm
MnZ (mail):
Loki13,

I agree with you a President that seeks to build bridges would be desirable. However, I would also add that I would also like a candidate that is willing to call a spade a spade. Keep in mind that "morning in America" was concurrent with "blame America first."

The Rove "wedge issue" approach often alienates people who are inclined to agree with you most of the time. On the other hand, the universalist "common ground" approach often tries to placate people that frankly should be ignored.

On the positive side for Obama, he has shown some willingness to break with Democrats and/or the Left on certain issues. For example, Obama has indicated that he disagrees with the strict antiwar movement even though many in the movement are fawning over him.*

*-One could speculate that Obama is betting on the cognitive dissonance the antiwar movement. For example, JFK is a favorite President of the antiwar movement, which makes very little factual sense (e.g., the Missle Gap, Jupiter missiles in Turkey, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and blockade, escalation in Vietnam).
1.28.2007 2:34pm
fffff:
Another thing... before we annoint him the "moderate" of the field, has anyone bothered to line up his voting record next to Hillary or Edwards?

Which of course assumes that Hillary and Edwards are raving liberal loons. But be careful with that tact, Dan -- if you get people actually looking at what Obama, Hillary, and Edwards voted for, they might start caring about the substantive policies behind their bills, rather than getting all lathered up because Rush told them Hillary was a femi-nazi. Thin line, is all I'm saying.
1.28.2007 2:39pm
Loki13 (mail):
MnZ,

I think you raise some interestingpoints, but I disagree with you in one major area-

the use of the Rove 'wedge issue' does not simply separate out people who would normally disagree. It serves to accomplish the following major goals:

1. Obfuscates meaningful &difficult issues with meaningless &easy issues. Here's the thought problem- imagine a President who is in every way similar to our current one, but was agnostic towards gay marriage. How would the last few years play out differently from a legislative standpoint? Would you be able to see a difference? Remember that the last major step towards protecting marriage was DOMA under Clinton (1996).

2. Causes the electorate to see differences that may not exist. With Bush, you're either 'for him' or 'against him'. Despite the hard-left's dislike of Reagan, he was able to work well with a Dem majority in the Congress (cf Tip O'Neill) because the belief was that they were working together for the common good- just in different ways. The vast majority of Americans (who do not listen to talk shows or write on blogs) agrees on many issues. There are differences... vital differences, but the similarities are even greater.

This comes to the what I find is a major issue- giving credit to others with whom you disagree with. The world is not black or white. There is not always a right or wrong. There is, sometimes, nuance. Two equally intelligent people can have goodfaith, different solutions to the same problem.

I would like to see an election between two people who believe in America, one who advocates a more limited government, and one with a belief in a more expansive government role. A choice between competing visions of America in a new century.

Not... he's gonna let the gays marry v. he's gonna steal yer social security.
1.28.2007 2:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

"Bush's own statements strongly imply that he used cocaine."


I read that too. The statement is so confused it proves nothing.

"There is also affirmative evidence of Bush's drug use: his former sister-in-law has said Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was President, and not just once either."


Your "affirmative evidence" is a London Tabloid quoting tabloid biographer Kitty Kelly. You have just destroyed your credibility. BTW Sharon Bush has denied she ever made such a statement.
1.28.2007 2:56pm
Serenity Now (mail) (www):
"... an extremist Islamic Madras."

Is that something like a jihadist tartan?
1.28.2007 3:12pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
As much as it goes against my better judgment to respond to you, F^5, the assumption was made by those declaring Obama a "moderate." Who do you think he's "moderate" in comparison to? Unless you're one of those people who thinks there's no such thing as a liberal, and everyone to the right of Noam Chomsky is right wing.
1.28.2007 3:15pm
Loki13 (mail):
A. Zarkov,

Pres. Bush has denied ever using illegal drugs before 1974. In tape recorded conversations made while Governor of Texas (in reference to marijuana, LSD and cocaine) he said he didn't want to talk about his use before 1974, since that might cause others to emulate his activities.

All of this is paraphrasing. One account can be found at:
MSNBC

So... won't talk about drug use prior to 1974. Rich Andover/Yale kid. Rampant speculation. This tape recorded conversation. Lots of smoke- where's the fire? ...what's not in that article? ... the specific part 'bout cocaine where he refutes an earlier denial, but doesn't admit anything... denying a denial, without admitting, that's almost Clintonesque!).

Anyway, what does it all mean? It means that I don't care. Cocaine use in the 1970s has nothing to do with his fitness to be president in 2000. This is the land of redemption, and it doesn't matter if he used drugs when he was in college, or had a DUI over 25 years ago. Let he who is without sin...
1.28.2007 3:19pm
fffff:
The statement is so confused it proves nothing.

So you're saying he's so addled that it must not be cocaine? Right. This is really simple: Bush has pointedly refused to say whether he used cocaine prior to 1974. If he didn't use cocaine, why can't he deny the allegations and put the issue to bed? Almost certainly because he took cocaine, Zarkov. Maybe you're fooled by Bush's Beltway-insider refusal to admit or deny, but the rest of us have more sense than that. You can keep denying what is readily obvious, but it doesn't score any points.

As for Sharon Bush's later denial, she's not suing for defamation, and the publisher Doubleday hasn't backed down from the statements. Sharon Bush isn't a public figure -- she'd only have to show that Kelley's statements are false.
1.28.2007 3:25pm
Loki13 (mail):
Actually, Bush's cocaine use is a great litmus test for the left and the right.

The left brings it up continually, beacuse, for them, it is a way to attack someone they don't like. OTOH, there is a long tradition of differentiating between the person and the politics on the left (Kennedy, MLK... call it the European style) so there always has to be the disclaimer, "Not that there's anything wrong with it!" Instead, it's because, I dunno, he's not trumpeting it (like he would, since it might be elctoral suicide).

The right, however, does believe in the moral rectitude of their leaders reflected by their politics. Which is why we continually get these Clinton-esque defenses of Pres. Bush on this count. It's not enough to say he was a wild and crazy party guy, but now he's an effective political leader. It's a weird form of hypocrisy, and unnecessary.

So we get the left, attacking Pres. Bush for something that they don't believe is wrong, and the right, defending him by using tactics they deplore. Kinda funny, isn't it?
1.28.2007 3:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Loki13:

"… he said he didn't want to talk about his use before 1974, since that might cause others to emulate his activities."

Which could easily mean he smoked pot. Remember this is an interview, and people don't always speak precisely (especially Bush). He could have even meant his binge drinking.

"Anyway, what does it all mean? It means that I don't care. Cocaine use in the 1970s has nothing to do with his fitness to be president in 2000."

Bush's behavior in the early 1970s as a member of the Air National Guard was certainly touted as bearing on his fitness to be president. CBS News went down in flames over the forged documents purporting to prove his misbehavior.

"This is the land of redemption, and it doesn't matter if he used drugs when he was in college, or had a DUI over 25 years ago. Let he who is without sin..."

It's not the land of redemption (where does that come from?) for people who want to be president. Certainly there is a large number of people who didn't do drugs and who aspire to high office. If we show our young people that doing drugs can lead to disqualifications for important positions then perhaps fewer of them will do drugs. But if we say just wait a few years and all will be forgiven, and you can even be president, then what kind of a message does that send to them?

"Let he who is without sin..."

I've tried that trick myself, and it doesn't wash. Not getting to be president isn't the same as getting stoned to death. There is nothing wrong with insisting our leaders have an exemplary character.
1.28.2007 3:45pm
Elliot Reed:
If Obama had been all white rather than half-black, given what is known about affirmative action date, it's likely that he wouldn't have gotten into Harvard Law. Moreover, if he had been all white, it's likely he would never have become a public figure.
Perhaps. And if a certain politician hadn't been a multimillionaire, a legacy, and a President's son, he would have disappeared into obscurity.
1.28.2007 3:49pm
fffff:
Who do you think he's "moderate" in comparison to?

I think he's moderate compared to a lot of the people on the left and the right, because he's demonstrated a willingness to place the interests of the country as whole first (meaning, inter alia, he tries to accommodate people who disagree with him).

It's not enough to say he was a wild and crazy party guy, but now he's an effective political leader. It's a weird form of hypocrisy, and unnecessary.

I think it is necessary to Republicans, mostly because they frequently have to rely on these irrelevant attacks on personal history (but partly because he's not an effective political leader). But I like and appreciate the reflective analysis.
1.28.2007 3:50pm
Elliot Reed:
A black guy who can speak like a white guy and who has some intelligence so floors white liberals that they're ready to stand on line, bend over, and "toot his horn".
Um, wow. Is there anything in the comment policy about overt racism?
1.28.2007 3:50pm
jack (mail):
I guess I missed the boat on offering comments about the article here, but this quote was too good to pass up:


The law review is "fairly disconnected from the breadth and the rough and tumble of real politics," said Bruce Spiva, a former review editor who now practices civil rights law in Washington. "It's an election among a closed group. It's more like electing a pope."


Electing a pope! I'm so looking forward to law review elections!

(current 2L)
1.28.2007 3:56pm
fffff:
There is nothing wrong with insisting our leaders have an exemplary character.

Yes, but the same standards have to be applied to each candidate, regardless of his or her affiliation. The acceptance of Bush's non-admission as proof there was no drug use suggests you don't really care about exemplary character.

Um, wow. Is there anything in the comment policy about overt racism?

Yeah, right? At the end of that tortured chain of logic, Obama is still a bad candidate because he's black!
1.28.2007 3:57pm
MnZ (mail):
Mark,

I would agree that Lincoln had similar official experience to Obama when he became President. However, Lincoln's "unofficial" experience in terms of party leadership and campaign activity were arguably more extensive.
1.28.2007 4:23pm
Jeremy T:

Electing a pope! I'm so looking forward to law review elections!


Having been through a couple in my time, I can say that it's much less like electing a pope than a dogcatcher. The only people who care about it are the candidates.
1.28.2007 4:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

"The acceptance of Bush's non-admission as proof there was no drug use suggests you don't really care about exemplary character."

I never said a non-admission proves Bush didn't use cocaine. I said I haven't seen any strong evidence that he has. Remember "not guilty" doesn't prove innocence. But Obama admits to cocaine use. Need I remind you that cocaine use is currently a serious crime, and was probably a serious crime in the late 1970s as well? Moreover cocaine has serious effects on the central nervous system by blocking the dopamine transporter protein (DAT). This can lead to intractable addiction with irritability, mood disturbances, restlessness, paranoia, and auditory hallucinations. Using cocaine shows poor judgment on the part of the individual.
1.28.2007 4:31pm
Toby:

If Obama had been all white rather than half-black, given what is known about affirmative action date, it's likely that he wouldn't have gotten into Harvard Law. Moreover, if he had been all white, it's likely he would never have become a public figure.

Indeed the fascination with him is ultimately a reflection of white racism and guilt. A black guy who can speak like a white guy and who has some intelligence so floors white liberals that they're ready to stand on line, bend over, and "toot his horn".

THere are many fracture lines in this country. No candidate can speak to all of them. One of them is the self-destructuve equation of urban thuggery with "true blacvk self" - and the associated challenge to educational attainement as being white. This plays to all the worst stereotypes of the not-particularly-racist-but-concerned-about-culture middle ground. This may be particularly true in lower middle class, because if you live close to the edge, you cannot afford stepping the steps closer to the edge for self gratification.

This is exacerbated by many well educated white liberals joining hands with black activits to attack conservative black politicians as being dumb "oreos" who are traitors to their race.

A well spoken liberal and ostensibly black candidate (I say ostensibly because so much of all people in the use are mongrels with a vast mix of ethnicities, from the famous Tiger Woods Cablinasian to my own Irish/German/Afghan/Scot and my English/Cubano/French wife to make such easy classifications meaningful) would be usefull as it offers a possibility to change this ugly dialectic.

This makes many moderate conservative or moderate libertarians, resigned that we will have a liberal statist after Bush, to prefer Obama because some cultural good may come of him.
1.28.2007 4:39pm
fffff:
Wow, Zarkov, baby, just quit when you're ahead. The quantum of proof isn't really relevant when the man can't be bothered to deny the allegation. Answer me this simple question: Why do you think Bush has not denied using cocaine?
1.28.2007 5:00pm
Jeremy T:

Why do you think Bush has not denied using cocaine?


Because a political advisor has told him not to, and wisely so. Denying it gives it credence. Ignoring it was the right political move. And besides, there's just no credible evidence Bush has ever done cocaine.

But this "he didn't deny it therefore it must be true" business is a dirty one to be in. FFFFF, you've never denied molesting your children, have you?
1.28.2007 5:08pm
Loki13 (mail):
Zarkov &Jeremy T,

I don't want to really get into this (because, repeat after me, I really don't care), but I believe you're being disingenuous. From his statement that was recorded on tape, it was clear he was talking about illegal drug use, not binge drinking. He also retracted his earlier (as governor of Texas) denial that he used cocaine, and he has never addressed the issue since.

I would be the first to say that asking a candidate when they stopped beating their wife is an unfair question. But if a candidate says that they've never beaten their wife since never 1974, and they're retracting their earlier denial that they beat their wife, and they can't comment about any time before 1974 when they were young and irresponsible, and they repeat this over and over and over again... well, what inference would you make?

But again, who cares? America (and the world) would have been a much worse place if every political leader with a blemish on their past had been ruled out of public life. On the other hand, I can think of some true monsters who were nice to animals and never did cocaine.
1.28.2007 5:13pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
A.Zarkov: "Only two sitting US senators have ever been elected president, Harding and JFK. . . . In general senators have no executive experience, so we elect governors,<b> <i>vice presidents</i></b>. . . ."

How many sitting vice presidents were elected in the last 150 years? . . . Don't know A. Zarkov? Let me tell you: One.

Thanks for coming out; the rest of what you write is just as wrong, but again, thanks for trying. It's a lot better than a lot of the critical Obama commentary here which is just plain racism.

Sick people.
1.28.2007 5:19pm
fffff:
Jeremy:

Its true that I've never denied molesting children, but if I did, I wouldn't issue the denial in the form of: "I deny that I have molested any children since 1974." Likewise, it defies common sense that Karl Rove told Bush to deny snorting cocaine, but only since 1974 unless there's credible evidence that Bush did cocaine in 1974.

Fellas, seriously, this is a dead horse. The only reason we're still talking about this is because Jeremy snarked about Obama's own use. But none of you are Karl, so quit trying to weasel out of Bush's cocaine use. We can all sleep better at night, knowing that it at least looks like you care more about the country than your party's prospects.
1.28.2007 5:37pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Out of curiosity, CT, does that include mine?
1.28.2007 5:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

Bush or any other candidate does not have to keep denying every unsupported allegation that comes up in the tabloid press. He has denied using cocaine. He hasn't denied using every illegal substance before 1974. Pot was an illegal substance. Moreover it's hard to tell what he means because he is so inarticulate in uncontrolled interviews.

You might overlook some transgressions if a candidate is otherwise extremely compelling. What makes Obama compelling to (say) Richardson? Richardson was Secretary of Energy, an administrative position and now a governor. As far as I know Richardson has never admitted cocaine use. Why should I not prefer Richardson who has a clean record (at least so far) and much more appropriate experience for office of president?

You might not care if a candidate was a youthful cocaine user, but many people do because they don't want to tell young people "go do drugs, just don't get caught." There is another more subtle message we send by ignoring Obama's cocaine use. It only matters for white people, we don't expect better from others.
1.28.2007 5:49pm
Loki13 (mail):
Zarkov,

You are, of course, correct. Bush has not admitted it. Despite his denial of his previous denials, squirrely statements, and tons of smoke (and occasional glimpses of fire, like the testimony of others) we don't have him either admitting it, or videotaped evidence of him doing cocaine.

I look forward to your efforts in helping OJ find the real killers. *grin*
1.28.2007 5:57pm
Jay Myers:
fffff:

I think he's moderate compared to a lot of the people on the left and the right, because he's demonstrated a willingness to place the interests of the country as whole first (meaning, inter alia, he tries to accommodate people who disagree with him).

For 2005, Americans for Democratic Action gave Obama a perfect 100 and the American Conservative Union gave him an 8. He also got 100 percent scores from the AFL-CIO, the League of Conservation Voters, and Planned Parenthood plus an "A" rating from the National Education Association. National Journal magazine gave him an 82.5 liberal rating that year, which ranked him as the 16th most liberal out of 44 Democratic senators. Keith Poole of UCSD has Obama tied with Hilary as the 14th most liberal Senator, which is the first measure I've seen that hasn't had Obama ranked slightly more liberal than Hilary.

In the Illinois legislature, Obama accrued a very liberal record. He supported a single-payer health care system run by the state, an increase in the minimum wage, and co-sponsored legislation that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted to prohibit residents of towns with local handgun bans from claiming self-defense if they used a gun inside their own home. He also voted in favor of allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but that would be his only exception to a general prohibition against the right to carry a concealed weapon. Obama voted against a measure to protect babies born during an attempted abortion. He also endorsed embryonic stem cell research.

If that's your idea of a moderate then what would a liberal be like? I mean, a politician who gets perfect liberal scores from multiple liberal organizations can't be doing too much accommodat[ion]' of 'people who disagree with him'.
1.28.2007 5:59pm
Jeremy T:
I don't think Bush has done cocaine, but it doesn't matter, at this point, if he did. He's finishing up his second of two terms as President, so it's become a moot point. It's not a moot point with respect to Obama.
1.28.2007 6:03pm
Shadrach:
1.28.2007 6:04pm
Mark Field (mail):

I would agree that Lincoln had similar official experience to Obama when he became President. However, Lincoln's "unofficial" experience in terms of party leadership and campaign activity were arguably more extensive.


Quite possibly, though I admit to knowing little about the details of Obama's experience prior to his election to the Senate.
1.28.2007 6:08pm
fffff:
Zarkov:

The specific charge in the media in 2000 was cocaine, not pot. Go back and click on the cnn.com link I posted: it specifically and explicitly talks about allegations of cocaine use prior to 1974.

Of course, if you were really judging people on the legality of their actions, you wouldn't rely on the distinction between cocaine and pot. Furthermore, if you were really judging people on the legality of their actions, you would at least acknowledge that you have yet to present a credible argument that Bush's statements can be squared with Bush not using cocaine or other drugs in 1974. In that light, your comment "many people do because they don't want to tell young people 'go do drugs, just don't get caught'" is so disingenuous it makes me gag. You've presented no reason for anyone to conclude that your "concern" about drug use is anything other than masked partisan attack. I could even buy somebody saying, "drugs are bad, and of course it was bad when Bush did drugs," but I don't think you can even say that.

I'm also blown away by how you guys keeps injecting Obama's race into these arguments: the "message we send by ignoring Obama's cocaine use [is that it] only matters for white people, we don't expect better from others." So he has a special obligation to avoid cocaine use because he's black? You guys are making me rethink my stance on affirmative action.

Look, at some point I'm going to stop rebutting you simply because I have a life and I have things to do. At that point, I will give up, you can declare victory because you can type more than I, and go and cash your check from the RNC, I suppose, but I don't think anybody else reading this will call it that.
1.28.2007 6:12pm
Adeez (mail):
Come on you silly libs: Bush never used cocaine!!!

And he never knew that terrorists could use planes as weapons
And he never anticipated the breach of the levies
And he never knew Jack Abramoff
And he was never really friendly with Ken Lay
And he never said "stay the course"

It's funny how we're discussing the worst president ever and the issue is whether or not he's used a drug that's roughly as bad as the one that he was admittedly addicted to for years
1.28.2007 6:13pm
fffff:
I don't think Bush has done cocaine, but it doesn't matter, at this point, if he did. He's finishing up his second of two terms as President, so it's become a moot point.

Bush's cocaine use is not a moot point because we're arguing over whether you guys apply the standard (that cocaine use disqualifies one from office) consistently to Republican and Democratic politicians. Further, if you were applying the that standard consistently, you would not minimize the fact that a former cocaine user still has a year left in the most powerful political post in the world. Seriously, none of you can at least choke out: "Bush was bad for doing drugs"?

These kinds of arguments kept Bush in power in 2004. But remember, skilled politicking doesn't make good policy, and that eventually catches up with you, like it did in November. Over the long run, you actually have to care about the country to do well in politics.
1.28.2007 6:37pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
CrazyTrain:

"How many sitting vice presidents were elected in the last 150 years? . . . Don't know A. Zarkov? Let me tell you: One."

How does that make my statement wrong? Besides I was talking about the whole history of the US presidency. Millard Fillmore was a sitting Vice President elected President, ok 153 years ago, before that there were at least two others. If you want to allow a lapse of time for a Senator before he becomes president then the only one I can think of is Benjamin Harrison. Nevertheless, the general historical principle stands, we don't elect Senators or even former Senators with anything like the frequency we elect governors or other people with executive experience.
1.28.2007 6:40pm
Loki13 (mail):

If you want to allow a lapse of time for a Senator before he becomes president then the only one I can think of is Benjamin Harrison

What?
What????
What???????

Now you're just making stuff up. I agreed with you until you said this. Number of Senators directly elected president: 2
Number of Presiidents with previous senatorial experience: 15

Again: 15. That's a little more than Harrison. Just this century...

Johnson (he did some stuff in the Senate, right?...wasn't there a few bios about his time there?)
Nixon
Truman
add Harding and Kennedy to the mix (directly elected) and you have Five Presidents this century with Senate experience*. Your original point (that being in the Senate isn't a great advantage) is valid... but it's better than being a haberdasher (1 this century).


*add Congressional experiience and you can toss in Ford, McKinley, and H.W.
1.28.2007 6:47pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

"Of course, if you were really judging people on the legality of their actions, you wouldn't rely on the distinction between cocaine and pot."

There is a big distinction between cocaine and pot, both legally and with respect to its affect the user. Moreover you keep thinking that you have proved Bushed used cocaine and you haven't. Furthermore you keep trying to assert that I'm trying to defend Bush. In 2000 Bush was the worst of the contenders for the nomination, but not because of unproved accusations. In 2007 Obama is not a compelling candidate over the other contenders for the nomination. His admission of cocaine use simply adds to the case against him as compared to the other choices.
1.28.2007 6:54pm
fffff:
Nevertheless, the general historical principle stands, we don't elect Senators or even former Senators with anything like the frequency we elect governors or other people with executive experience.

We also do not historically tend to elect short people, so we shouldn't elect anyone under 6 foot as President. Also, no women and no black people.

Or maybe the what-we've-done-historically line of argument is particularly unsound. Just throwing that out there.
1.28.2007 6:55pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Not that it proves anything, but one of the driving themes in the 2000 election was that Bush worked with Democrats in Texas, and therefore he could be trusted to continue the progress of the Clinton years, without the messiness...The base strategy only emerged in 2002.

As to Obama, I see assertions that he was only admitted to Harvard Law on Affirmative Action principles, I see no evidence. But let us assume it to be true. Worked well it did.
1.28.2007 6:59pm
fffff:
There is a big distinction between cocaine and pot, both legally and with respect to its affect the user.

Really? A big distinction? You should check those kinds of legal assertions out before you make them, in case somebody else does. I don't have the medical science on hand, but I sure to a certainty that casual cocaine use does not typically affect people years after they last use it, and if it does, it'd be pretty obvious to detect (a la Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys). It just defies common sense: Obama's impaired, its just not apparent over many years of campaigning but will be a disaster once he gets into (Presidential) office (but not in the Senate)? Doesn't fly.

You don't care about whether somebody used drugs, you just want to smear a Democratic candidate. Zarkov, you haven't answered yet: Why do you think Bush has not denied using cocaine?
1.28.2007 7:05pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Loki13:

You're missing something. Johnson, Nixon, Truman etc were former Senators, but they were either President (Johnson) or Vice President (Truman, Nixon). They had executive experience beyond being in the Senate. Benjamin Harrison was the only former Senator I can think of who ascended to the presidency without executive experience. He served in the Senate from 1881-1887. He was elected president in 1888. He never served as President, Vice President or in any major executive capacity or cabinet post.
1.28.2007 7:07pm
Loki13 (mail):
Followup to my last post-

When people cite various statistics to show that it is nigh impossible for Senators to become President, I must ask myself- compared to what?

There has been a noted trend in the latter part of the 20th Century towards governors as Presidential material, and that is a trend worth exploring. But in the entirety of the Presidency, there have only been a few jobs from which you can become President:

1. Governor- W. is our current one.
2. Vice President- H.W. in '88 was the last one to win this way.
3. Senator- Kennedy was the last one in '60.
4. General- Ike in '52.
5. Cabinet member- Hoover in '28.
6. Representative- Garfield in 1880.

That's about it. As far as #2 goes... how do most people get to become VP.... oh yeah, they have Senatorial experience (which is why the list of Presidents with Senate experience in 15). So, other than being the VP, what position other than governor is superior for running for President. Dunno... but I'd say running from the Senate is about as good as any other one.
1.28.2007 7:08pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

Cocaine is extremely addictive, while pot is not. Cocaine seriously affects the central nervous system-- pot does not. While you might use cocaine and be able to stop later, the potential for serious addiction is far greater than pot. Using cocaine shows a serious lack of judgment, far more so than pot. People should not use either, but that doesn't mean using one is not much more serious than using the other.

"Why do you think Bush has not denied using cocaine?"

Others and myself have already answered this question. Bush is inarticulate in uncontrolled interviews. Any sensible advisor would tell him to simply drop the subject and not dignify unproved accusations with a response. If he does otherwise, the tabloid journalists bring up other accusations.
1.28.2007 7:26pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
loki13:

Ok Obama for vice president. All you have shown is service in the Senate is a first step, but it must be followed up by executive experience. History shows the first step by itself is insufficient. I think a sitting Senator is simply a poor choice for a nominee absent some other compelling reason. Now if the Senator had previously been a general or even the mayor of a big city, that's a different story. If the Democrats nominate Obama they had better hope they face another inexperienced Senator otherwise he's going to look like a lightweight by comparison.
1.28.2007 7:36pm
Elliot Reed:
Loki13 - I think the idea of it being impossible for Senators to get elected comes from the fact that since '60 nobody has won from the Senate. So if we assume that people are oblivious to politics until they're at least 12 or so, then nobody younger than about 58 remembers a Presidential election won by a sitting Senator. And since '60 we've obviously got a "very small sample size" issue.

I think it's pretty implausible that no Senator can win this election. The major candidates (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) on the Democratic side are all Senators. The frontrunner for the Republican nomination is a Senator, and the major non-Senator Republicans (Romney, Guliani) are obviously not going to be nominated (too Mormon, too socially liberal). So the odds that the next President will be a sitting Senator are very high.
1.28.2007 7:40pm
fffff:
First off, Zarkov, you never answered my question. Only Jeremy did. Second, his answer -- and your new answer -- don't reflect reality, as the responses to Jeremy's answer showed. Bush didn't simply refuse to admit or deny: he denied cocaine use since 1974. "[I]t defies common sense that Karl Rove told Bush to deny snorting cocaine, but only since 1974 unless there's credible evidence that Bush did cocaine in 1974."

Let me ask again: Why do you think Bush has not denied using cocaine? Do you have an answer that makes sense?
1.28.2007 8:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
There is also affirmative evidence of Bush's drug use: his former sister-in-law has said Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was President, and not just once either."
No, she didn't.
The conclusive evidence of Bush's drug use is limited because of the our press simply gave him a pass on the issue.
Presumably by "gave a pass" you mean "investigated and didn't report it because they couldn't find a single shred of evidence to support it."

As for your claim that Sharon Bush is "not suing for defamation," so what?
Sharon Bush isn't a public figure -- she'd only have to show that Kelley's statements are false.
No; she'd have to show that Kelley's statements are defamatory. While they, if false, would be defamatory towards George Bush, that doesn't mean Sharon Bush could win such a suit.
1.28.2007 8:25pm
fffff:
Sharon's defamation claim would be that Kitty Kelley lied about whether Sharon said scandalous things about Bush. Brilliant creative lawyer that is not. Read the entire article you linked too -- Kelley isn't backing down on her reporting on Sharon's statement, and neither is her publisher. Kelley might have a bad reputation, but there's never been a judgment for defamation entered against her.

Presumably by "gave a pass" you mean "investigated and didn't report it because they couldn't find a single shred of evidence to support it."

Did you mean other than a pointed refusal to deny cocaine use before 1974? Let me ask you, why do you think Bush refuses to deny using cocaine prior to 1974?
1.28.2007 8:36pm
Jeremy T:

Bush's cocaine use is not a moot point because we're arguing over whether you guys apply the standard (that cocaine use disqualifies one from office) consistently to Republican and Democratic politicians. Further, if you were applying the that standard consistently, you would not minimize the fact that a former cocaine user still has a year left in the most powerful political post in the world. Seriously, none of you can at least choke out: "Bush was bad for doing drugs"?


But there was no conclusive evidence he did cocaine during either of his national elections and there is no conclusive evidence he did cocaine today. If there had been, I, for one, wouldn't have supported him in 2000. I would have supported him in 2004, because the alternative was ghastly and Bush had proven himself with 4 pretty good presidential years.

So stop talking about the Bush thing. There's no solid evidence he used coke, so stop accusing people of hypocrisy who support him. If you want to accuse a Republican of hypocrisy, find one who (a) believes Bush did coke, (b) supported him anyway, and (c) has attacked Obama for coke use. That doesn't apply to me, Mr. Zarkov, or anyone else who has commented on this blog regarding Obama's coke-snorting.

And here's an answer that makes sense re Bush's denials. He made a few muddled denials, but then realized his political opponents would attack him for coke use whether he used coke or not, and so he then shut up about it completely to stop giving the accusations credence. I have no doubt that if he'd come forward with a complete denial, it would have caused him more political harm than good. That's why he didn't. Shutting up about it stopped the story, and nobody's ever found any hard evidence to suggest he did any coke.

But, as I've said before, all of this is irrelevant. Nobody on this blog comment thinks Bush did coke, gave him a pass, and then attacked Obama for coke use. Find somebody that did that and go harass them.
1.28.2007 8:59pm
Loki13 (mail):
Jeremy T,

Personally, I find hypocrisy in the gay marriage issue. Seriously, how is that Amendment going? What about all the great Federal legislation passed since DOMA in... 1996? How's that campaign promise working?

Seriously, watching the lather people get into on a national scale over Bush's cocaine use is like watching the people here in Florida discuss Crist's... um... tendencies (not that there's anything wrong with being a 50-something bachelor who's never dated women since a brief 6 month marriage in the 70s and dresses so nicely). It just doesn't matter. But watching people trying to contort their positions (a heavy drinking Eatern establishment party boy with those connections who didn't try cocaine would be the real story) to the reality must involve the same typ of cognitive dissonance that, well, as Johnny Cochran would say,
"IIf he didn't toke, then you must vote!"
1.28.2007 9:07pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Sharon's defamation claim would be that Kitty Kelley lied about whether Sharon said scandalous things about Bush.
Which, as I said, would be defamatory towards George. But Sharon suffered no damages as a result of the statement.

Did you mean other than a pointed refusal to deny cocaine use before 1974?
By evidence, I mean evidence. A "refusal to deny" is not evidence.

Not a single shred of evidence has ever been discovered. The only person ever quoted on the record was by a gossip writer, and that person denies having said it. Hatfield's book was completely discredited, and didn't have anybody on the record anyway.

By the way, the 1974 thing is a misrepresentation. That's not a quote from Bush. (Nor is it a quote from his spokesperson -- check your link. It's a quote from the reporter. There are no quotation marks around it. At best it's a paraphrase of a quote from his spokesperson.)
1.28.2007 9:11pm
Jeremy T:

not that there's anything wrong with being a 50-something bachelor who's never dated women since a brief 6 month marriage in the 70s and dresses so nicely


This is patently false. Charlie Crist dated a FEMALE acquiantance of mine for several years earlier this decade.
1.28.2007 9:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
A.Zarkov: "Only two sitting US senators have ever been elected president, Harding and JFK. . . . In general senators have no executive experience, so we elect governors, vice presidents. . . ."

How many sitting vice presidents were elected in the last 150 years? . . . Don't know A. Zarkov? Let me tell you: One.
Uh, you might want to try looking at the denominator for each statistic. How many sitting senators have run for president in that time? How many sitting vice presidents have done so? (And what's with the carefully chosen "150 years"?)
1.28.2007 9:13pm
Jeremy T:
And adding a bit, your counterfactual attack on Crist for being allegedly gay just proves how absurd this argument is. You, Loki, and your friends all are fussing about me and others rejecting a Thing Everybody Knows. Well, the Charlie-Crist-is-gay thing is another Thing Everybody Knows. But I know without any shadow of a doubt that it is absolutely false.

I'm sorry, I don't believe in Things Everybody Knows unless there's some evidence.
1.28.2007 9:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
fffff:

Obviously we have an impasse here. I can't get into another person's head and explain why they phrase answers the way they do. If what he has said on this matter proves to you that Bush was a cocaine user then so be it. I have a higher standard of proof than you do and we would obviously come to different conclusions about many things serving on a jury. However I think more people share my position than yours. The media, other than the tabloids, seem to think this matter is not worth pursuing. Now if you want to believe that Bush has somehow intimidated the press, then again that's your privilege.


The fact that Sharon Bush has not sued Kitty Kelly or her publisher means nothing. I don't see that Sharon Bush has been damaged in any meaningful way. She is simply exercising good judgment and avoiding the stress and expense of a lawsuit. The burden of proof is on Kitty Kelly to prove Sharon actually made the statements claimed. Without a witness or a recording (which can be faked) we can't resolve the contradiction. I can't resolve it either, so I have to say "not proved." Obviously we can't give any unsubstantiated accusation credence particularly when a controversial public figure is the target.

Having once been part of a scientific research team that was wrongly defamed, we still choose not to sue for libel and slander. We would have had a pretty good case as the accusations were reckless and unfounded. Ultimately the accuser backed off and apologized, so we eventually got vindicated without the expense of a legal case.
1.28.2007 9:21pm
fffff:
Jeremy, your post is not consistent with the facts of Bush's statements. Bush did not generally refuse to admit or deny cocaine use. Bush, personally and through his campaign, has specifically and explicitly denied using illegal drugs after 1974 -- but refused to make any statement about drug use, and specifically cocaine use, before 1974:
Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker later 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.

Nobody here has denied Bush's campaign made this statement, or that Bush did endorse it. Given this statement, it defies common sense that Bush did not use cocaine prior to 1974. Zarkov, this can't be passed off as a simple misstatement on Bush's part. The statement above is an official statement by Bush's campaign. Bush's inarticulate nature doesn't come into it. Nieporent, the campaign statement specifically referred to 1974.

Given Bush's own statements and the context in which they were made, there's no plausible reason to think he didn't snort cocaine. If you seriously don't think Bush didn't use drugs, you are looney or ridiculously naive. Since you all seem to have ample analytic reasoning and political savvy where it comes to Obama, I'm forced to conclude its hypocrisy.

Gentlemen, this is simple: why did Bush refuses to deny using cocaine prior to 1974?

Which, as I said, would be defamatory towards George. But Sharon suffered no damages as a result of the statement.

If I reported that Orin Kerr said vile nasty things about Eugene Volokh, both Orin and Eugene would have defamation claims against me. This is basic defamation law.

So stop talking about the Bush thing.

No. You don't define the agenda here. You aren't the boss of me. It terrible that I need to drop to the fourth grade level, but apparently you need to hear it. Bush made the coke charge against Obama irrelevant. Time to deal with it.
1.28.2007 9:43pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Nieporent, the campaign statement specifically referred to 1974.
You haven't cited any "campaign statement." You cited a reporter's statement about a campaign statement. Do you understand that when a reporter doesn't put quotation marks around something, the reporter is paraphrasing it, not quoting it?

(And even the paraphrased statement is about "illegal drugs," not cocaine specifically.)

If I reported that Orin Kerr said vile nasty things about Eugene Volokh, both Orin and Eugene would have defamation claims against me. This is basic defamation law.
The only thing you've proven you know about defamation is how to defame Bush. Again: Sharon suffered no damages.
1.28.2007 10:03pm
Kev (mail) (www):
It's funny how we're discussing the worst president ever

Hmm, I don't recall reading too much about Jimmy Carter in this thread... ;-)

Not that it proves anything, but one of the driving themes in the 2000 election was that Bush worked with Democrats in Texas

That he did. But the Texas Democrats of the time were much more willing to reach across the aisle for the good of the people than the ones in Washington are. There hasn't been a Bob Bullock-type in Washington for decades.
1.28.2007 10:08pm
fffff:
Do you understand that when a reporter doesn't put quotation marks around something, the reporter is paraphrasing it, not quoting it?

Are you saying the paraphrase is inaccurate? Is your objection relevant in any material way? Nieporent, why does Bush refuse to deny using cocaine prior to 1974?

Again: Sharon suffered no damages.

Jeez, this again. If I falsely reported that Orin made statements that could objectively shown to be false, Orin has damages. I've effectively made him out to be a liar, and he's not. Sharon could sue, if she didn't actually make those statements.
1.28.2007 10:33pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I haven't seen you around here before, f^5... mind if I ask where you linked from? "You're not the boss of me" was priceless, but for the record:

"...avoid rants, invective, substantial and repeated exaggeration, and radical departures from the topic of the thread. Sticking with substance -- and staying on-topic -- will make the comments more helpful to other readers, and more pleasant." - The Boss
1.28.2007 10:42pm
fffff:
Long-time reader, first time ranter. I don't usually have this kind of time, but its been a down weekend.
1.28.2007 10:46pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Are you saying the paraphrase is inaccurate? Is your objection relevant in any material way? Nieporent, why does Bush refuse to deny using cocaine prior to 1974?
I am saying that you're making a huge deal of the form of his denial, "I haven't used cocaine since 1974," when that wasn't actually the form of his denial, but just a paraphrase of his statement.

Why have you not denied molesting children?

Why has not a single person come forward and said that Bush used cocaine if he used cocaine? (Sharon Bush doesn't count -- even if she hadn't denied saying it, that obviously wouldn't be before 1974, since she allegedly said that he did it at Camp David, when his father was president.)


Jeez, this again. If I falsely reported that Orin made statements that could objectively shown to be false, Orin has damages. I've effectively made him out to be a liar, and he's not. Sharon could sue, if she didn't actually make those statements.
Again, damages require, you know, damages. All false statements about a person are not defamatory. Falsely saying that I made a statement is not defamation per se.
1.28.2007 11:16pm
Jeremy T:
F^5,

You can tell me all you want that I'm not the boss of you. But until you find me someone who thinks Bush did coke, supported him anyway, but now attacks Obama for coke use, you're wasting everybody's time with this absurd strawman argument.

And this notion that Bush paved the way for coke-snorting candidates is likewise absurd, because, as had been pointed out time and again, Bush has never admitted doing coke nor is there any credible evidence that he did it. The best you can do is Loki's previous comment, i.e.: All hard-drinking Eastern elites do coke. George W. Bush was once a hard-drinking Eastern elite. Therefore, George W. Bush did coke.

That's such a weak argument it's laughable.
1.28.2007 11:30pm
Loki13 (mail):
Jeremy T,

Now that you've employed your ad vecumdiam, I know you're making things up. Crist's predilections have been an open secret in Tallahassee for a while, including the identities of previous indiscretions. The reason there was a spirited Republican primary was for just this reason (the social conservatives didn't want someone who was different in the gov'nor's chair). This is not a recent Democratic talking point-- this goes back to when he was AG. So either I have to call shennanigans on your statement, or extend pity to your friend for her use as a beard.

I've never understood this sort of cognitive dissonance. The other day, I read someone ranting that Rush only needed the Oxycontin for back pain, and it was an honest mistake. *sigh* Just because you support a position doesn't mean you have to be blind to reality. And more importantly, it's a 'why does it matter?'. Crist is one of the best Republican politicians Florida has turned out in some time... does it matter whether he likes men or women for the health of the state?
1.29.2007 7:11am
fffff:
"Pressed by reporters last month, Bush, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said he has not used illegal drugs since 1974, the year he turned 28."

Ex-drug users have questions for Bush, Houston Chronicle September 26, 1999

"We appear to have reached an impasse in the matter of Texas Governor George W. Bush and cocaine. Ever since Bush first ran for governor in 1994, his political opponents and the press have been demanding to know whether he has ever used illegal drugs. And, for just as long, Bush has been refusing to answer, arguing that what he did in his reckless youth is nobody's business. Bush was aided in his first Texas campaign by the fact that his Democratic opponent, then-Governor Ann Richards, had well-publicized substance abuse issues of her own.

"When asked by The Dallas Morning News whether he could honestly answer "no" to the standard government security clearance question--"Have you used drugs in the past seven years?"-- Bush said that he could. When he realized this might imply that he had used drugs as recently as eight years ago, Bush told reporters that in 1989 he could have passed the 15-year "no prior use" standard that applied during his father's administration. That is, no drug use after 1974. And it is at this new defensive line that Bush is making his stand. Asked if he had used drugs prior to 1974, he reverted to his stock none-of-your-business answer."

To Tell the Truth, The New Republic, Sept. 13, 1999




"CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) .... The "Dallas Morning News" asked what even Governor Bush acknowledged was a relevant question: Could he pass the White House background checks asking presidential appointees about drug use in the past seven years.

Gov. GEORGE W. BUSH: The answer is absolutely. Not only could I pass the background check of the standards applied in today's White House, I could have passed the background check on the standards applied on the most stringent conditions when my dad was president of the United States, a 15 year period.

CHRIS BURY: (voice-over) That meant, a spokesperson explained, Bush was denying any drug use since 1974, when he was 28. But much to the dismay of his campaign, that answer only opened the door to even more specific questions."

BUSH: NO DRUGS IN 25 YEARS ISSUE DOGS FRONT-RUNNER Daily News (New York) August 20, 1999, Friday


I am saying that you're making a huge deal of the form of his denial, "I haven't used cocaine since 1974," when that wasn't actually the form of his denial, but just a paraphrase of his statement.

The denial he gave is qualified. The qualification was confirmed by his campaign spokesperson. The qualification is a "huge deal," inasmuch as it is inconsistent with Bush not using cocaine. Pretending that its the form of the answer, or that Bush was simply inarticulate, or that these things didn't happen is a lie. But if you repeat it enough, maybe it will become true.

Why have you not denied molesting children?

Asked and answered, counsel. Time to move on.
1.29.2007 8:51am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Time to move on is right, f^5...
1.29.2007 10:08am
Jeremy T:

Now that you've employed your ad vecumdiam, I know you're making things up.


You calling me a liar doesn't help your case. Charlie Crist is a heterosexual. And again, you accusing me of "cognitive dissonance" is just a cover for your inability to produce real evidence on either the Crist-is-gay or the Bush-did-coke fronts. Sorry Loki, not every rumor you hear is true.

And let's learn a little more about our argument forms, shall we? I did not employ an ad vecumdiam argument (known by normal people as an "appeal to authority"). I simply happen to know for a fact that Crist isn't a homosexual. But you and F^5 certainly are employing an appeal to the majority argument, also known as the bandwagon fallacy.

So the next time you want to argue with somebody on the internets, maybe you should assume they know a little something about what you're talking about. I know a little something about argument forms and Charlie Crist, which is apparently not the case for your usual foe.
1.29.2007 10:56am
Jeremy T:
And I'm curious about something else, F^5. You cite all this crap about Bush denying (or non-denying) DRUG USE. Even if your argument were valid, which it is not, all it implies is that Bush used illegal drugs in his youth. How do we get from that to cocaine use?
1.29.2007 10:58am
QED:
Florida Governor Crist is NOT gay. He's bi.
1.29.2007 11:09am
fffff:
You cite all this crap about Bush denying (or non-denying) DRUG USE. Even if your argument were valid, which it is not, all it implies is that Bush used illegal drugs in his youth.

There's no ambiguity in those quotes. Bush denied drug use, but qualified it in a way that makes it clear that he used drugs before 1974. Why are the quotes "crap"? Why isn't the argument valid? Why do you think Bush qualified his denial of drug use to exclude periods before 1974?

How do we get from that to cocaine use?

The specific charge in the media and in the Hatfield book was cocaine. From the CNN link: "Bush has faced persistent questions from the news media about whether he had used illegal drugs -- particularly cocaine."

But more importantly, why are you shifting the goal posts? You started this line of inquiry by implying Obama's drug use is relevant, presumably either because it demonstrates a tendency to break the law or because cocaine use impairs him. But you can't really care about whether he broke the law, because there's no credible argument left that Bush did not break those same drug laws: it doesn't matter which illegal drugs Bush used -- he used illegal drugs. It just doesn't wash that Obama's long-ago cocaine use is somehow more serious than Bush's long-ago unspecified drug use (even though we all know its cocaine that he denied using). Obama's current ability to function as a Senator and run a normal campaign strongly suggests his long-past drug use does not impair him now. Are you saying you think Obama is impaired now?
1.29.2007 11:42am
Loki13 (mail):
Jeremy T,

Um... that's funny. Defensive much? Amazing how you managed to pull this female friend out of your hat. It's amazing to me that things that are common currency in most political discourse (such as the sexual orientation of major political figures on both the left and right) come as such a shock to people outside the political world. Did your "friend" have a rebound relationship with David Dreier, too?
1.29.2007 2:03pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Fffff:

Since you said you were just passing through, I thought I would say I've enjoyed your posts and this thread, and I hope to see more posts from you on this blogsite.
1.29.2007 2:22pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Asked and answered, counsel. Time to move on.
Nice try, but you didn't answer at all. You admitted that you DIDN'T deny it, and said that IF you denied it, you'd deny it differently than you think Bush denied cocaine use. But you neither denied it, nor explained why you didn't deny it.

And no matter how many times you say it, all Bush said was that he could have passed the background check or even his father's more stringent background check. You still are quoting paraphrases of what he said, rather than what he actually said.

And even assuming arguendo that we pretend those paraphrases are exact quotes, there was no mention of "cocaine." Just "drugs."

(And again: not a single person has said he used cocaine before 1974. Not one witness. In a world where even NSA operations to spy on Al Qaeda can't be kept out of the media, you think that Bush's cocaine use wouldn't have been publicized?)
1.29.2007 3:48pm
fffff:
But you neither denied it, nor explained why you didn't deny it.

I did explain it; you don't like the explanation because it doesn't serve your rhetorical purposes. Bush didn't issue a blanket denial of drug use, he denied it with a qualifier that makes it clear he used cocaine prior to 1974. Tell you what though -- you tell me why, in the face of public furor about allegations of cocaine use prior to 1974, Bush or his campaign issued qualified a denial of drug use, and failed to deny Bush used drugs prior to 1974 -- and I will deny molesting children. Easily done.

[A]ll Bush said was that he could have passed the background check or even his father's more stringent background check.

Why didn't he simply deny using any drugs, ever?

You still are quoting paraphrases of what he said, rather than what he actually said.

Are you saying that his own campaign spokesperson misrepresented his position? Even if I accepted that position, common sense tells me the campaign would issue an unqualified statement, rather than stick with a qualified statement that implies Bush used cocaine prior to 1974.

And even assuming arguendo that we pretend those paraphrases are exact quotes, there was no mention of "cocaine." Just "drugs."

Wow: I addressed this just a few posts ago. Bush was responding to charges specifically about cocaine use, and why do you care which drug Bush used, if your concern is supposedly illegal behavior? You don't care about illegal behavior, as long as its a Republican.

In a world where even NSA operations to spy on Al Qaeda can't be kept out of the media, you think that Bush's cocaine use wouldn't have been publicized?

In a world where our intelligence services said there was WMDs in Iraq and justified a disastrous war, little would surprise me about Bush &Co's ability to distort the truth.
1.29.2007 5:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I did explain it; you don't like the explanation because it doesn't serve your rhetorical purposes.
That's what's known as a falsehood. What you wrote is, as your own link shows:
Its true that I've never denied molesting children,
Which is not a denial of it, but a concession that you haven't denied it. And is not an explanation of why you won't deny it.
but if I did, I wouldn't issue the denial in the form of: "I deny that I have molested any children since 1974."
Which is not a denial, but rather a hypothetical statement about what you would do if you denied it. And is not an explanation of why you haven't denied it.
Likewise, it defies common sense that Karl Rove told Bush to deny snorting cocaine, but only since 1974 unless there's credible evidence that Bush did cocaine in 1974.

Fellas, seriously, this is a dead horse. The only reason we're still talking about this is because Jeremy snarked about Obama's own use. But none of you are Karl, so quit trying to weasel out of Bush's cocaine use. We can all sleep better at night, knowing that it at least looks like you care more about the country than your party's prospects.
Which is not a denial of it, or an explanation of why you haven't denied it. All you'd have to do is say, "I didn't do it." You won't do so. What should someone with "common sense" conclude about you, therefore?

Why didn't he simply deny using any drugs, ever?
Maybe he used some drug, at some time, and didn't want to be in a position of having the media question each one until they hit the right question.

Bush was responding to charges specifically about cocaine use,
He wasn't responding to "charges." He was answering specific questions he was asked, and those questions used the word "drugs."
and why do you care which drug Bush used, if your concern is supposedly illegal behavior? You don't care about illegal behavior, as long as its a Republican.
I don't care about drug use by anybody. I just care about intellectual honesty.
1.30.2007 3:38am
fffff:
Bush's qualified denial of cocaine use, which implies he used cocaine, is not the logical or rhetorical equivalent to the blanket of denial of child abuse I would give. I offered to deny molesting children if you would tell me why, in the face of public furor about allegations of cocaine use prior to 1974, Bush and his campaign staff issued qualified denials of drug use, and failed to deny Bush used drugs prior to 1974. You haven't taken me up on my offer, which is disappointing. I am rather looking forward to denying molesting children, but I'm going to get something in exchange in the rhetorical game we're playing.

If my prior posts weren't a sufficiently plain explanation, this is it.

I don't care about drug use by anybody. I just care about intellectual honesty.

I'm pleased we can agree on this. You agree that the implication is that Obama's own drug use is irrelevant?
1.30.2007 11:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Bush's qualified denial of cocaine use, which implies he used cocaine, is not the logical or rhetorical equivalent to the blanket of denial of child abuse I would give.
But the fact that you won't give it, except hypothetically or conditionally, is very suspicious, don't you think? All you'd have to do is say it, and we could move past it, but you've spent many many many more posts not denying it than it would take to deny it.

So either you have a bad reason for not denying it (that is, it's true) or a good reason. In which case you might concede the possibility that Bush had a similarly good reason.

I'm pleased we can agree on this. You agree that the implication is that Obama's own drug use is irrelevant?
I agree with what I said: I don't care about drug use by anybody. Anybody includes Obama.
2.1.2007 7:15am