Editorial: To sweep up Bush must come clean

The communications dilemma facing George W. Bush is the most fascinating ’issue’ to emerge in the early running for the Presidency. That might say something about the lack of real ’issues’ in the race thus far; but as any seasoned observer knows, ethical considerations are as real as anything in politics, burying the political hopes of many a presidential candidate.

The communications dilemma facing George W. Bush is the most fascinating ’issue’ to emerge in the early running for the Presidency. That might say something about the lack of real ’issues’ in the race thus far; but as any seasoned observer knows, ethical considerations are as real as anything in politics, burying the political hopes of many a presidential candidate.

The communications dilemma facing George W. Bush is the most

fascinating ’issue’ to emerge in the early running for the Presidency.

That might say something about the lack of real ’issues’ in the race

thus far; but as any seasoned observer knows, ethical considerations are

as real as anything in politics, burying the political hopes of many a

presidential candidate.



Bush is big in the polls. He is Texas to the Rhode Island of his

Republican rivals. Should he admit to taking cocaine, straight out?

Should he talk about the other sexual allegations that are now surfacing

at this early stage?



Undoubtedly, this admission would not help, particularly in a GOP

primary whose voters are conservative. Of course, many Christians are

advocates of forgiveness and have been very open about their own

problems prior to being born again. But the Moral Right is not always as

forgiving as the Christian values it represents, and will be

particularly sensitive after the shame President Clinton has brought on

the Oval Office. And from a position of extraordinary dominance, he

risks losing everything because of something he did 25 years ago.



This is understandably troubling to Bush and his team, but he has danced

round the issue for several months in a manner that will remind people

of Clinton’s word games. His latest ’semi-admission’ came when he told

journalists, ’Over 20 years ago, I made some mistakes and I learned from

those. That’s all I intend to talk about.’



This stuttering uncertainty is reminiscent of Clinton’s shifty

proclamations on drug use, and helps explain why, after an outstanding

start, Bush and his troupe have been marked down in our early report

card on the progress of the presidential communications teams (see p14).

After all, how’s he going to deal with difficult issues that concern the

running of the country if he’s thrown so off guard like this? Bush is

also naive if he thinks that his ’intentions’ not to ’talk about’ it

will deter the press, who have clearly smelt blood.



The Bush communications team will be watching to see how the public

reacts to the admission of cocaine use in the 1970s last weekend by

Warwick RI mayor Lincoln Chafee, son of Senator John Chafee, who is

running for the seat vacated by his father. He told a local interview

program on Sunday: ’I had three choices: lie, which was not an option;

evade it and receive the consequences of that; or be honest. And I chose

to be honest.’



The New York Post contends that Clinton is a ’chronic and habitual liar’

whereas Bush ’is evidently twisting himself into knots trying not to lie

(without committing political suicide).’ But given his desire to set an

example to young people, it would have been better to not play the word

games and just admit it and move on.



Bush has thus far earned a reputation without appearing to do or say

anything - relying on looks, name and fortune to smile his way to the

top of the polls. Now that the halo has fallen, he should find the right

medium and the right moment to come unequivocally clean. And then he

should go out and really earn a reputation, by proving he is the best

candidate for the job.



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