Friday, September 20, 2002

Bush Justice

The Nitpicker has nothing but sympathy for poor Noelle Bush. Many Americans suffer from addictions to drugs that are damned hard to beat. If she can do it, we have no beef with her.

But her dad's another matter.

I used to respect Jeb Bush. I felt bad for him when his brother ran for office, too. I mean, all these years, he's been doing the right things to be allowed to take a shot at the presidency. He was a good student; an actual, honest-to-goodness business man; and was slowly but surely working his way up the chain that dangles from the door to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Then his brother -- the opposite of Jeb in every way -- came along and tainted the White House for years to come.

Now, though, he's shown himself to not only be as dumb as his brother, but also as spoiled, by saying, basically, that it's much harder to be a child of privilege than a child in poverty. "Treatment is not an easy thing," he said, speaking about Noelle's problems with drug abuse "and it's even harder, to be honest with you, when you're the daughter of the governor." Who the heck is he kidding? It's harder to come from a rich family whose political influence will scare people away from turning you in than it is to be poor and addicted?

This is the most ridiculous thing I've heard since Dubya claimed that you could still consider drug use and drunk driving "youthful indiscretions" until you were almost 40.

Drugs are the scourge of the working poor in this country and, using insane sentencing guidelines, our nation has jailed half a generation of blacks and hispanics. (If you are in the dark about how these guidelines work, listen to this episode of the fabulous program This American Life. There' a handy chart that will show you why Dorothy Gaines -- who never touched a drug in her life -- was required to be sentenced to more time than rapists or child molesters get. In one of the moves that Republicans won't point out, Clinton pardoned her as he left office.)

Noelle has a right to fear going to jail for a long time and, if her father had either brains or guts, he would use this time to rethink his state's position on the way drug use is treated by the courts and, while we're at it, the point of criminal sentencing, period.

Instead we're probably going to get more of that old "that doesn't apply to me" Bush justice.


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