Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Is George Bush an alcoholic?

Which is a different question from whether he currently drinks. The question arises, again, because the impression that Bush "was" an alcoholic is one of the things that he leaves out there, like the impression that he is a born-again Christian (he's not) because it's politically effective. Who doesn't like a story of redemption? Better still if it involves the Lord.

So Bush today was in Baltimore visiting a scheme that helps former prisoners reintegrate in society, and in addition to his public remarks there was a private meeting with group members --

"Addiction is hard to overcome," ... "As you might remember, I drank too much at one time in my life," Bush said. "I understand faith-based programs. I understand that sometimes you can find the inspiration from a higher power to solve an addiction problem."

Increasingly, Bush has reflected in candid terms about his days of drinking. Last month, he told some young recovering addicts to stick with their fight against drugs and cited his own experiences with alcohol years ago. He said then that "addiction competes for your affection ... you fall in love with alcohol."

Unfortunately we've learned from other contexts that Bush's statements have to be parsed indefinitely to see their true meaning. And note that in these meetings, he never says "I was addicted to alcohol" let alone "I am an alcoholic". Those listening are left to draw their own pleasing assumptions about what he meant, reporters included.

That being said, Bush certainly has the personality of someone who could use a drink. But that's got nothing to do with whether God helped him in a struggle with alcoholism.

UPDATE: Later versions of the AP story are more careful about characterising his relationship to the demon drink.

FINAL UPDATE 30 NOVEMBER: He checked the list of ingredients in a pisco sour, right?

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