Thank you, RWood. Well said and straightforward.
Mike, I know that it was the booze that was publicized for Bush minimus, but I believe the coke abuse was mostly kept fairly quiet. I think, by the way, if you weren't doing drugs and you were going to school during that time period, you weren't paying attention. I think there is some difference between taking the drugs and having an addiction to them, however, which is what the papers were reporting.
If you think that occasional drug use in college is a problem that should keep a person out of office, once you have that information, you should vote accordingly. That would apply to President Obama as well as President Bush. An actual addiction provides a greater risk for a decision maker in office, however, and I've never seen information that President Obama was addicted to anything but cigarettes. Alcohol addiction and barbiturate addiction, by way of contrast, have a level of lethality associated with their withdrawal syndromes one doesn't tend to find in cigarettes. Nor, as I understand it, to pot.
In other words, the downside of alcoholism is substantially higher, and the public has a more urgent right to know. In President Bush's case, this proved not to be a block to his election any more than President Obama's college drug use proved to be a block to his election. Should the public have felt a marvelous curiosity about President Obama's drug use, I'm reasonably certain the news would have been forthcoming. I can understand that everybody might not agree with me on that, but we have the Clinton experience to go by.
Despite the massive coverage of President Clinton's issues and the reasonably minor coverage of any exculpatory material, the man's popularity kept growing through the entire fiasco. While Mr. Gore lost (according to the supremes) to President Bush, I don't know that the election would have had the same outcome had President Clinton been able to run for a third term. I don't know of any way of checking that out, either; but it seems entirely possible to me that Clinton might have won.
The issue here as far as press coverage goes seems to me to be that the Republicans have put themselves in the position of running on values they can't live up to in terms of family values, sexual behavior and morality; and when they fail, they look like worse people than they are. Rush Limbaugh would only have looked like a man with an unfortunate drug problem, for example, had he not made such draconian suggestions about how addicts ought to be treated. As a result of his overblown stance, he is not only a man with a drug issue — which deserves sympathy and treatment and only after other measures have been exhausted some sort of legal intervention — he now also looks like a hypocrite and has reaped the whirlwind, so to speak.
There are a significant number of other Republican scandals that follow this model. These folks have made themselves news by following the classic man bites dog formula. To have a reprobate do something sleazy is not news; to have a man who holds himself up as a moral exemplar do something sleazy is news. To blame the media for reporting the news only makes the sleaze factor appear more ripe and pustulant.
The Democrats are fully capable of being as bad in terms of personal behavior, but for Democrats, to be gay is not the end of the world, to have been divorced is not wonderful but need not be fatal, and to be other than completely religious is forgivable. On the other hand, to be photographed having lunch with an oil executive may well be occasion for some fancy dancing.
There are some fates too horrible to be discussed in polite company.