Come Clean, Mr. Bush

Article excerpt

George W. Bush has a Bill Clinton problem, so to speak, and it is to answer legitimate questions about his past. There is a rumor - perhaps entirely false and spread by his political opponents - that the GOP presidential candidate may have used cocaine at some point during his younger years. No one likes innuendo and rumor. However, our distaste for these sorts of questions does not obviate the fact that Mr. Bush, who wants to be the chief law-enforcement officer of the land, has not denied using cocaine, period. Over the last few days, his position has evolved from not having used the drug "within the last seven years" to not having used it within the last 25. Well, why not come clean and let the voters know, once and for all, whether Mr. Bush has used it at all?

This evasiveness suggests to a reasonable person that, like Mr. Clinton, the younger Mr. Bush may indeed have "inhaled" at some point in the past. A person unjustly accused of illegal or embarrassing actions, no matter how long ago they may have taken place, would be quick to categorically deny the accusations. Mr. Bush's hedging is making people justifiably suspicious.

But should the actions of Mr. Bush in the dim past be a concern to prospective supporters? Well, yes - on several levels. First, and most obviously, is the issue of candor. We've had almost eight years now of shifty double-talk from the president; the country deserves a leader who can speak without his hearers needing decryption equipment to parse his meaning. …