Giddy Republican leaders and conservatives of all stripes were fired up yesterday when they gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.
All of their heavy hitters were there, from former/future Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney to Scott Brown, recently elected Senator from Massachusetts.
One speech that is being quoted in newspapers and on TV screens around the country is from author Jason Mattera. The “zinger” from Mattera likened the CPAC conference to Woodstock – “except that unlike the last gathering, our woman are beautiful, we speak in complete sentences and our notion of freedom doesn’t consist of cocaine, which is certainly one thing that separates us from Barak Obama”.
While the whole quote is offensive, I want to hold up a mirror to Mattera and the GOP on the issue of drug use. Surely many in the crowd who were chuckling and cheering remember that President Bush – “the straight shooter” – was never able to answer simple questions about his cocaine use. For years his answer was that he made “youthful indiscretions”.
Let’s also remember that President Obama’s GOP challenger, John McCain, and his family, know about substance abuse on a very personal level. Cindy McCain had a well-known addiction to prescription pain pills. She was so hooked that she illegally used her charity to obtain the drugs. She would have physicians write prescriptions and then filled them with names of her staff.
And how about Rush Limbaugh, one of the most prominent conservative voices? Anyone remember how he would send his maid out to score him his Oxycontin? I could go on and on. Has Sarah Palin ever used an illegal drug? Yes. Newt Gingrich? Yes.
I would never expect our elected officials to go through life without trying drugs. We are a society swimming in drugs: Marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, Cigarettes, Alcohol, Viagra. Almost every American uses drugs both for pleasure and to soothe pain – and more than half of American adults have used an illegal drug.
Past or current drug use should not be worthy of ridicule – but hypocrisy should be. Rush Limbaugh once scoffed at the idea that African Americans are disproportionately arrested on drug charges, and suggested that the solution should be to arrest more white people. Yet when he was busted for drugs, he changed his tune in a heartbeat.
And how about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? When asked if he had smoked marijuana he said yes, and even added that he enjoyed it. Yet under Mayor Bloomberg, New York has the shameful distinction of being the