Unreported Bush Interview

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Mon Aug 16 13:11:43 PDT 1999

[From Chris Caldwell's column in NY Press. He's writing about the premiere issue of Talk, and this is about his Weekly Standard colleague Tucker Carlson's profile of young Bush. The full column, which blasts Lucinda Franks & Hillary, is at <http://www.nypress.net/col1.cfm?content_id=194>.]

Carlson's article on Bush was a considerably more professional job, and the consensus among righties in Washington is that it's going to do Bush a great deal of damage. Not because of the governor's tendency to pepper his sentences with "fuck," "fucking" and "fucked"which is the revelation that has the Bush staff most upset. No, it's three counts:

(1) Abortion. Bush told Carlson he had no idea whether abortions had gone up or down in the state since he became governor, an indication of his true level of interest in the issue.

(2) Karla Faye Tucker, the convicted murderer who was "born again" in prison, and who was executed last year after Bush denied her appeal for a stay. You can make an argument for Bush's decision on policy grounds. But he didn't have to treat Carlson to a piping "Oooh! don't kill me!" imitation of Karla Faye Tucker pleading for clemency in the last days of her life. Something about the incident left me with the impression that this particular comic routine had been honed by repetition at dozens of stag poker nights. (Haw! Haw! Haw!) One wonders whether the country will get to know Bush is the worst kind of swaggering preppy pig.

(3) Cocaine. When Carlson asked about the rumors of Bush's high living as a young man, the candidate blew his top. That's the line Bush has taken with the newspapers that have been trying to get the governor to admit he's used cocaine. "There's a game of vicious gossip," he told one newsman, "and I'm not going to participate in the game of vicious gossip. If the voters don't like that, they can find someone else to be for." In particular, the Daily News has asked the question of 12 candidates and Bush is the only one not to have answered. He always replies with some discursion on the "politics of personal destruction." Anytime you hear "politics of..." the guy might as well be saying, "Bullshit alert!"

This stuff is either off-limits or it's not. Who knows whether Bush will eventually be forced to admit he's tried cocaine. But he can't brag about his marital fidelity, as he does in the Talk article, without opening himself to reporters' asking the question again and again. Watch out.

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