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A Problem with Potables
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Though it has been common Washington gossip for over a year, President Bush's losing battle with the bottle has been ignored by the mainstream media. This is consonant with the media's hush-hush attitude towards the alcoholic impairment of public figures in general: Kennedy, Monynihan, et. al. Just look at recent pictures of Bush full-face and compare them to a year ago and the difference jumps out at you.

Should we concern ourselves with his private life? Does it matter if he is an alcoholic and suffering from the effects of demon rum? Is it any of our business?

The answer is "yes" when it concerns an impairment of the man who has his finger on the metaphorical button--or maybe an actual button, I don't know. If it concerned Joe Everyman, I'd say it was none of my business, unless he were the driver in the other car headed straight for me at 70 mph. Situational ethics, I suppose. If a private person wants to drink himself into an early grave, he has only himself to answer for. But a public official under the public trust must be held to a higher level of scrutiny. The mainstream media has let us down.

What niggles at my mind is the question posed by Mark Kleiman (www.markarkleiman.com). Why the reluctance to disclose a drinking problem (as opposed to the glee with which a sexual problem is exposed)? Because it is much more widespread than we acknowledge, and mainstream media editors might have to confront it in themselves? Because as a nation, we have always let it go with a wink and a nudge and a ready excuse for inexcusable behavior? Because as a species we all have a weakness there, a potential weakness for alcohol? I'd be interested in the answer.

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