Bush back on the bottle?

Ignore the sophomoric boasting, unimaginagtive foul language, and snark: RickyZ at Bottle of Blog makes a strong case that our Fearless Leader is hitting the bottle again. (Follow the audio link; it will take more ingenuity than even Eugene Volokh has to explain away this Bushism.)

The well-established tendency of the press to cover up boozing by influential figures makes this all the more credible: that is, the fact that there’s been no mainstream coverage of the question is not a strong reason to think it isn’t a major problem. He’s going to be in office for three more years, and the pressure isn’t going to decrease any. So if he’s doing occasional binges now, there’s a real risk of his progressing to steady soaking before it’s over.

What if, in a drunken rage, Bush orders Teheran nuked? (It’s not impossible, so suppose with me a little bit.) Presumably the guy with the football and his superiors in the military figure out some way to hold off until he sobers up. But setting a precedent for frank noncompliance by the brass with a direct order from the President isn’t without cost.

And of course the days in which there was a Washington Establishment that could do something about a problem like this one, or a Republican Party capable of dealing seriously with the problem of a Commander-in-Chief who is repeatedly drunk on duty — an offense for which any other member of the armed services would be given an administrative discharge at best — are long gone.

I’m no fan of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, and I’m not sure I’d prefer a sober Cheney to a sozzled Bush. But we do, now, have a Constitutional remedy for this sort of situation, and it’s scary that no one so much as imagines invoking it.

Maybe Barbara Bush, who reportedly read the riot act to her granddaughters about their boozing and actually got them to cool down, could do the same for her son.

Footnote Just for the record, I agree with Eugene that many of the Slate “Bushisms” are quoted out of context to make GWB look even sillier than he is. But “freeance, peance” for “free and peaceful”? There’s a problem somewhere.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com