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Judgment and Character

July 31st, 2003

You’re at a bar on a warm Saturday evening in New England, and there is a group at the table next to you. At least one of the members, a 30-year-old man, is drinking several beers; the young woman next to him, only 17 years of age, is not old enough to drink yet.

They finish their drinks, and head for the exit; you note that the man who had been drinking several beers is fishing his car keys out of his pocket, and you wonder if anyone in his party will stop him from getting behind the wheel. After they leave, you may wonder if they get home in one piece, and wonder at the judgment of the driver–after all, he was not so drunk that he would lose the ability to understand that you don’t drive while in that state. You might wonder what kind of person knowingly drives drunk, what kind of character it takes to do that.

You pay the bar tab, and your group’s designated driver takes you home; on the way, you see a car pulled over by a policeman on the side of the road. You see that the driver is being given a sobriety test, and you recognize him: it’s the guy from the bar. Perhaps there is some justice, you think, but wonder how many times that guy drove drunk before he finally got caught.

The night was Saturday, September 4, 1976, and the driver was a future president of the United States. Bush’s passengers were tennis star John Newcombe and his wife, in addition to his underage sister, Dorothy. Bush had indeed, by his own admission, drunk “several beers” before getting behind the wheel. A police officer, Calvin Bridges, reported that Bush was swerving off the road when he pulled him over. Bush failed the sobriety test, and later tested a 1.0 on a blood-alcohol test, just exceeding the legal limit at the time. Maine’s legal limit today is 0.8, and had he been arrested today, Bush would have spent two days in jail for having a minor in the vehicle.

Bush received a $150 fine, and his driver’s license was suspended in Maine for no less than six months (several reports say two years). Bush, however, went to court to have his license reinstated about a month after his arrest, even though he did not take a rehabilitation course that is required for reinstatement. Although, by later confession, Bush was in his heavy-drinking period that would last until he was about 40, Bush testified in court that he drank only once a month, and had “an occasional beer.” The court granted his request remove the suspension on his license.

What is just as questionable as Bush’s decision to drive drunk that night with his underage sister in the car is how Bush related this event to the American people while trying to get himself elected to the nation’s highest office.

At first, he did not relate this to the American people at all; in fact, he lied about it several times.

In 1998, Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater asked Bush if he had ever been arrested. Bush replied, “After 1968? No.”

In November 1999, on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, Bush was asked, “If someone came to you and said, ‘Governor, I’m sorry, I’m going to go public with some information.’ What do you do?” Bush replied, “If someone was willing to go public with information that was damaging, you’d have heard about it by now. You’ve had heard about it now. My background has been scrutinized by all kinds of reporters. Tim, we can talk about this all morning.”

Also in 1999, Bush told CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan that there was not any “smoking gun” about unrevealed incidents in his past.

In November 2000, Bush told a press conference that he did not go to court about the DUI, when he in fact did so.

And then there was the infamous 1996 juror incident. At that time, Bush was randomly selected for jury duty. Wanting to make a PR stunt out of it, Bush made a big deal about how he was just an ordinary guy, and of course, he would do his duty and serve on the jury. He claimed to the press that it is “a feeble excuse” to say he’s too busy or important. When he was given the forms for jurors to fill out, there is a section where jurors are required to detail prior arrests and court proceedings they experienced. Bush left that section blank. Apparently, the court did not want to bother the governor with such legal niceties, so he was not required to fill it out as everyone else is. But then Bush ran into a bigger snag: by chance, he was assigned to a drunk driving case, and, as a potential juror, he would without doubt be asked, under oath, if he had ever been arrested for drunk driving before.

Time for a feeble excuse to come to the rescue. Bush asked to be dismissed from jury the night before the trial, and was helped by Alberto R. Gonzales, his legal counsel. (Bush later appointed Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court, and later as a legal counsel in the White House.) The excuse? “It would be improper for a governor to sit on a criminal case in which he could later be asked to grant clemency.” Huh? How often was Governor Bush asked to grant clemency for drunk driving? He was obviously taking positive action to hide his past from the public.

During the previous year, Bush had also taken another step to hide his past: On March 31, 1995, George and Laura Bush were given new driver’s license numbers; Bush’s was #000000005. Bush was born on July 6, 1946, and his license was not near expiration. The reason given for the change was “security,” but there was no precedent for Texas governors doing this. The change destroyed the records of his previous license, which would have detailed any arrests. This bears on the many rumors that Bush was also caught DUI in Texas, which would in turn explain why Bush mysteriously performed community service, for Project P.U.L.L., an inner city Houston program for troubled youths, from 1972. There may yet be other arrests we still do not know about.

And when the arrest came out in public, did Bush take full personal responsibility, as he likes to claim that he does?

Heck, no. He lied some more, of course. He started by claiming, “I have always been honest with the American people.” Uh, yeah, right. He then turned on the person who released the information, calling it a “dirty trick.” The timing of the announcement may have been (albeit a very clumsy “dirty trick”), but the DUI arrest was not. And he even tried a bit of revisionism, claiming that he was not pulled over because of his erratic driving, but rather because he “was driving too slowly.” Makes it sound less damaging that way–but nonetheless is just still another lie.

And how did Bush take full personal responsibility for lying to the American people about it for so long? He used his daughters as a publicity shield. He said he wanted “to be a good role model for his daughters.” Which, of course, is bogus, because any good parent, especially when it comes to alcoholism, knows that the best way to deal with such things with your children is to be honest and up-front. Of course, this course of action might explain why these same daughters have been repeatedly arrested for underage drinking. It might give Bush an excuse for lying to the people, but it also makes him a bad father.

This is the person we have leading our country, sending our young men and women to die in battle, making decisions that will affect this nation’s prosperity and security for decades to come.

Note: Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States, was arrested on DUI charges twice.
Categories: Bush and Character Tags: by
  1. breathalyzers
    November 16th, 2003 at 11:00 | #1

    Was he driving drunk? If he was he should go to jail!


  2. phil
    December 23rd, 2003 at 05:26 | #2

    Bush is one messed up gut lol. I think it’s funny how people believe he is the most fit man in america to run the country. Think about everyone you met, don’t you think there are alot smarter people then bush. Hell I met stronger lunch meat!

    Oh yea, by the way, I?m no longer focusing my efforts on my breathalyzer site. Instead I turned my company into a nice informative non-profit site. You can get all kinds of stats and resources on drinking and driving and learn some interesting things about alcohol.

    One thing that I thought was hilarious was this quote from Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the U.S., observed that ?It has long been recognized that the problems with alcohol elate not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing.?

    Editor’s note: This comment is rather obviously spam, and though I am keeping the message as an example of elaborate blog comment spam, I have removed all links, trade names, and email addresses.

  3. phil
    February 3rd, 2004 at 03:44 | #3

    Um hate to break it to you chief but it’s not spam… You show me what spammer that would spend that much time on each comment… I do go around and look for blogs about drinking and driving and I always read EVERY post and leave a message about the subject at hand so that’s really not spam…

    It took me like 15 minutes or so to write that and if I spent 15 minutes on every spam then I wouldn’t be a effective spammer.

    Anywho thatnks for leaving the post up and I could care less if you took the links out, just trying to get my company name out there while I leave UNIQUE comments.

  4. Luis
    February 3rd, 2004 at 07:30 | #4

    Sorry, Phil, but when a message is laden with links and email to a site where a commercial product is sold, then it’s spam. Elaborate or not, unique or not, an advertisement is an advertisement, and I don’t allow people do advertise here on my nickel.

  5. notmini
    February 5th, 2008 at 00:04 | #5

    I would recommend Alcohol rehab not only to Cheney but to all drunken drivers. Why would a normal person get jail for this but Cheney goes freely back into the world? Where’s that “we’re all equal” law?

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