Dried out

He started drinking in prep school, and was an irresponsible drinker till his marriage at 33. Then he grew up, sobered up and hasn’t had a drink in 22 years. Yes, it’s Howard Dean. I wonder if Democrats will stop referring to George W. Bush as an alcoholic.

About Joanne


  1. Personally, I don’t see what would be so bad about having an alcoholic president. (Not that President Bush is one.) Or any sort of alcoholic politicians. If they can stand when they’re in the legislature or in their offices and give speeches and do business, then they can keep all the scotch they want in their desks. Keep private life private, public life public. Our pols are human beings.

    Bush can be judged on his record, as can Dean. (And this’ll mean very different things to the various people who read this. ;-))

    Trouble is, neither party can stick to this. The Dems would say this when Clinton was pulling his stuff, and some Republicans would say this when their respective scandals emerged.

  2. The most imporatant part is that neither of then stopped with AA–thus, in the eyes of the faithful, they’re “dry drunks”. Of course, W has Divine assistance (and I’m not being a snot). But did Dean just stop, one day? What will Ann Richards say.

  3. No way in Hades an alcoholic should be President of the United States. If you can’t control your drinking you can’t have access to the little red button that makes the nuclear weapons go BOOM.

    Once someone gets to be President their private life pre-presidency should be off-limits and they should be temporarily immune to prosecution for most crimes, with the statute of limitations extended by their term in office. To use Clinton as an example, he should have been immune to the Whitewater stuff during his term in office. However, the Monica Lewinski affair was while he was in office, in the workplace, with someone who was an employee. He should have resigned when his wrong doings were discovered. My bet would be that Gore would be president now and would be doing a great job. End of my turn as a prophet.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    In California, they used to close the bars on election day, until someone wisely decided that election day was the one day where you really, really needed a drink.

  5. Having actually read Dean’s account of his drinking it doesn’t sound like he drank anywhere near as much as Bush admits to drinking. It’s more along the lines of typical 20-something drinking habits. Certainly there’s no DUIs in his history.

    But even if Dean were a keg a day drinker, it wouldn’t change the fact that Bush is an alcoholic.

    Pretzel, huh?

  6. There’s a big, big difference between being an irresponsible drinker and being an alcoholic. One can use alcohol irresponsibly, but not be addicted to it. I see nothing in the article that would indicate that he was addicted. I’m not a Dean supporter — I just don’t see anything here that indicates he’s an alcoholic (dry or otherwise).

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Find out what Bush drinks and send a case to all the other Presidents.

  8. Wasn’t Winston Churchill an alcoholic? And he wasn’t dry?

    If an alcoholic hasn’t had a drink for 10+ years, doesn’t that move them into a different category?

  9. If an alcoholic hasn’t had a drink for 10+ years, doesn’t that move them into a different category?

    Yes, they’d be called a recovering alcoholic. But pretzel innuendo aside, there are still plenty of bits which would seem to indicate that W has gotten drunk in the time that he claims to have been sober (the best known is the wedding video which I think is still at thesmokinggun.com).

  10. I don’t really care. Look at Kennedy, and all the pain meds he lived on. Whether you liked his policies or not, he was in control of himself and his office. I doubt either Bush or Dean can blame alcohol for their errors.

    I do wish the members of the Opposite Party (whoever they are in any given discussion) would grow up, stop taking cheap shots, and address real issues. But hey, now _I_ sound like I’m smoking something, don’t I.

  11. No, Churchill was not an alcoholic. Check out the FAQ at winstonchurchill.org.

  12. Well, the Clinton history hasn’t stopped many Democrats from calling Bush a draft dodger, so I doubt what Dean says will make any difference on alcoholism. (I should add, by the way, that Bill Hobbs did a very nice investigation of the claims that Bush missed his National Guard service while he was in Alabama. It really does seem to be a matter of lost records and fallible memories.)

  13. Oh give me a break…
    Poor little innocent Georgie Porgie, being unfairly attacked by da mean ol rascally evil democrats…

    Karl Rove and his minions were quite unfair in their attacks… look at how they went after McCain with rumors that he was bit crazy after being a POW, or look how they slandered Max McCleland, the triple amputee war veteran senator from Georgia, questioning his patriotism for not supporting Bush’s version of homeland security…
    when he was a huge supporter of homeland security BEFORE Bush decided to puish his verson…

    But hey, I guess we’ll forgive your myopia… it is your blog afterall.

  14. LibraryGryffon says:

    Just a few points:

    It is quite possible to aspirate something one is eating without being drunk. It’s actually quite amazing that more people don’t do it more often, given that the human air and food pathways cross using the same tube for part of the way, and that most of us breath while eating.

    Getting drunk does not automatically make one an alcoholic, likewise an alcoholic can be quite functional while drinking regularly and not appearing/behaving “drunk”.

    Having a DUI on one’s record is not necessarily the sign of being an alcoholic (just of irresponsible use of alcohol on at least one occasion), and equally not all alcoholics will have a DUI on their records.

    Of course many alcoholics are often drunk, and many do have DUIs; it’s just that there isn’t a perfect correlation of the “If X, then Y, and if Y, then X” sort between alcoholism and drunkeness, and between alcoholism and DUIs.

  15. Mike,

    Thanks for correcting me on that. I’m always happy to give up a myth.

  16. I think many people assumed that Bush was an alcoholic because he stopped drinking entirely instead of just cutting back. I’m not so sure his abstinence has that meaning. Some Methodists (and Baptists), especially in the South, don’t drink at all, and I think that’s Laura Bush’s background.

    Howard Dean also decided to quit drinking entirely, rather than just cut back. Maybe he’s not capable of drinking in moderation. Maybe there’s another reason. If he’s been sober for 22 years, that’s good enough for me.

  17. I’ll drink to that!

  18. I live in the South and I am Methodist. I don’t know any Methodists who don’t drink for religious reasons. However, most Baptists who I know frown upon drinking.

    What is up with the negative energy toward Joanne? I missed the inflammatory myopic comment she made. But then again, I don’t much care for politicians on the left or right so it is hard to so anything bad about either side that irritates me. I don’t much agree with arguments along the lines of “Karl Rove does it so it must be OK” though. I much prefer “Karl Rove is just as big of a sleaze bag as any of the Democrats”, although I don’t think that is particularly germane to the issue at hand. Just my 2 cents worth, which even accounting for inflation is probably overpriced.

  19. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    Ross wrote:

    “I live in the South and I am Methodist. I don’t know any Methodists who don’t drink for religious reasons. However, most Baptists
    who I know frown upon drinking.”

    I grew up in the South and I am neither. But most Baptists I knew frowned on *other people’s* drinking, not their own.

    This seems to be universal: I drink moderately and judiciously. You occasionally overindulge. He is a drunk.

  20. CC,
    I somewhat agree with you, but I submit that the Baptist are no different from any other group when it comes to being short of perfection. Most Baptists do honestly frown upon drinking, but some of those who frown upon it still indulge even though they honestly believe they should not do so. I don’t know of any Christian religion that thinks adultery is OK, yet many Christians commit adultery and most of those involved are ashamed of their actions. We all fall short of what we should be (by we, I actually mean me for sure, but I suspect others fall short as well).

    What is sad to me is when someone brutally attacks someone else, while engaging in the exact same conduct or worse. I don’t want to veer too far into politics because I know that such a departure is likely to cause inflamed comments but here I go anyway. To the best of my knowledge, the Republicans have always resigned or at least paid a price for flagrant misconduct. I don’t see the same thing happening with the Democrats. I am open to examples to the contrary, if anyone has any, but please stick to proven actual misconduct, not rumors.

    Do not in any way think that I am defending the current administration or attacking any one Democrat. Conservatism without the belief in individual freedom from government interference is greed. Liberalism without responsibility is pandering for personal gain. Unfortunately, that is where I believe we are now and I don’t have any magic solution for how things will get better any time soon.

  21. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    Ross wrote:

    “What is sad to me is when someone brutally attacks someone else, while engaging in the exact same conduct or worse.”

    Agreed, the tendency is universal. Neither Baptists nor Methodists, Democrats nor Republican, have a patent on it.

    But whoever does hold the patent can probably afford pretty good whisky from the royalties.

  22. Bill Leonard says:

    I suspect we’re all reading about and commenting on these behavioral matters because we live in an age of nonstop media and, at lest since the Watergate era, media that no longer protect the personal foibles and problems of presidents and others in high station to the degree that once was common.

    Two examples: an estimated 75,000 still and newsreel photos were taken of FDR. Exactly three graphically show him as crippled and unable to walk unassisted. It has been posited that a great number of people in this country actually didn’t know of his condition.

    And, in a even more dangerous context, since it occurred at the dawn of the nuclear age and very early in the cold war, there’s the case of Alben Barkley. For those who don’t recall, Barkley was Truman’s veep from 1948 until 1952. He was about 70 when elected, and by 1951 was in the early stages of what we now likely would diagnose as Alzheimers. The man was a heartbeat away from the presidency. And the matter was kept quiet — indeed, squelched — by the media.

  23. Last I checked Dean does not have a DUI conviction on his record.

    And besides, the main reason Democrats made an issue of Bush’s DUI conviction in 2000 is that it seemed hypocritical, since Bush had made Clinton’s personal behavior an issue in the campaign even though he was not even running!

  24. Michelle Dulak says:

    Caffeinated Curmudgeon: What makes me think that you’re a devotee of “Yes, Prime Minister”?

    “That’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it? ‘I have an independent mind; you’re eccentric; he’s round the bend.'”

    Or again: “I give confidential briefings; you leak; he has been charged under Section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.”

    Between the Irregular Verb and the Politician’s Syllogism (“We must do something; this is something; therefore we must do it”), that program summed up “politics as she is done” better than anything I’ve seen before or since.

  25. Laura in DC,
    A few questions:
    1.) Bush campaigned against Clinton’s personal behavior? Are you sure of that? That would seem a stupid thing for Bush to do but maybe he did. I liked Bush during the election so I would have been likely to overlook his flaws.

    2.) Even if Bush did campaign against Clinton’s sexual misbehavior while Clinton was in the White House, how would that be hypocritical? Does that fact that Bush got a DUI in 1976 somehow mean that he can never say anything bad about anyone ever again? Surely you can see a difference between waiting until right before the election to release embarrassing details about an event that happened more than 20 years previously and criticizing what someone did while serving as president?

    If you mean that Bush campaigned against Clinton’s alleged use of illegal drugs in the 1960s or 70s then I would agree that would have been hypocritical. But surely that was not an issue in the election. That would have been so stupid of Bush that I would feel even worse about having voted for him than I already do.

  26. Mark Odell says:

    Walter E. Wallis wrote: Find out what Bush drinks and send a case to all the other Presidents.

    “Great minds,” and so forth…. (scroll down to ‘Psychobabble:’)

    Caffeinated Curmudgeon wrote: This seems to be universal: I drink moderately and judiciously. You occasionally overindulge. He is a drunk.

    And then, of course, there is the remark of Dylan Thomas (not Ambrose Bierce, as I mistakenly thought) that “an alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.”

  27. Loved the Dylan thomas quote. For the other side of the drinking issue, see the fifth essay in http://www.velocitypress.com/forbidden_knowledge1.php

    (Are you the Joanne Jacobs formely of the San Jose Mercury News, and whom I tried so many times to get to hike up Mission Peak?)