What did he snort and when did he snort it?


  E D I T O R I A L


  What did he snort and when did he snort
  it? Americans well might wonder what to
  make of the stories that Bill Clinton's drug
  use went far beyond just puffing on a joint
  or two. The stories are easy to disregard -
  except insofar as they provide the missing
  motive for an unquestionable scandal: the
  president's terrible record in fighting
  drugs.

  Two years ago, Sen. Lauch Faircloth,
  R-N.C., said: ''If any credible evidence
  surfaces concerning drug use by President
  Clinton while he was governor of
  Arkansas, it would be a national scandal.''
  A lot of testimony has bubbled up. But is it
  credible?

  Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas and
  Little Rock talk show host who said she
  had an affair with then-Gov. Clinton in
  1983, told the London Sunday Telegraph
  that he once came over to her house with
  a bag full of cocaine. ''He had all the
  equipment laid out, like a real pro.''

  Gennifer Flowers says she saw Clinton
  smoke marijuana and carry joints with him
  when he first began visiting her in 1977.
  Clinton was Arkansas' attorney general
  from 1977 through 1979. His first term as
  governor ran from 1979 through 1981. He
  was governor again from 1983 through
  1992.

  Two Arkansas state troopers have sworn
  under oath that they have seen Clinton
  ''under the influence'' of drugs when he
  was governor.

  Sharlene Wilson is a bartender who is
  serving time on drug crimes and has
  cooperated with drug investigators. She
  told a federal grand jury she saw Clinton
  and his younger brother ''snort'' cocaine
  together in 1979.

  Jack McCoy, a Democratic state
  representative and Clinton supporter,
  told the Sunday Telegraph that he could
  ''remember going into the governor's
  conference room once and it reeked of
  marijuana.''

  Historian Roger Morris, in his book
  ''Partners in Power,'' quotes several
  law enforcement officials who say they
  had seen and knew of Clinton's
  drug use.

  On a videotape made in 1983-84 by local
  narcotics officers, Roger Clinton said
  during a cocaine buy: ''Got to get some for
  my brother. He's got a nose like a vacuum
  cleaner.''

  One-time apartment manager Jane Parks
  claims that in 1984 she could listen
  through the wall as Bill and Roger Clinton,
  in a room adjoining hers, discussed the
  quality of the drugs they were taking.

  R. Emmett Tyrrell, editor of American
  Spectator magazine, has tried to
  track down rumors that Clinton suffered an
  overdose at one point. The incident
  supposedly occurred after the young
  politician lost the governorship in 1980 and
  fell into an emotional tailspin.

  Tyrrell asked emergency room workers at
  the University of Arkansas Medical Center
  if they could confirm the incident. He
  didn't get a flat ''no'' from the hospital staff.
  One nurse said, ''I can't talk about that.''
  Another said she feared for her life if she
  spoke of the matter.

  The president himself has helped fuel
  suspicions of an overdose or some other
  drug problem by refusing to make his full
  medical records public.

  It's easy to see the weak spots in these
  accounts. Some are just hearsay, and
  many come from very questionable
  characters. Few prosecutors would try to
  use any of them as evidence in court. This
  may be why the scandal of which Faircloth
  spoke seems to have such a long fuse.

  Yet President Clinton himself has done as
  much as any critic to keep the issue alive.

  In carrying out his presidential duty to
  enforce drug laws, he has waved
  the white flag. In hiring White House staff,
  he has shown extreme tolerance for
  recent drug use. In talking to the young
  about drugs, he has spoken irresponsibly.

  In short, its not at all clear, even now, if
  our president takes the issue of drugs
  seriously.

  Consider how he dodged the drug
  question over the years. In 1986,
  when asked if he had ever used drugs,
  Clinton responded he hadn't. In
  1989, when asked if he had used illegal
  drugs while an adult in Arkansas, he said
  he ''never violated the drug laws of the
  state.''

  The question was narrowed in 1991 to
  whether he had tried marijuana in
  college. ''No,'' he said, adding: ''That's the
  question you asked, and I'll give you the
  answer.'' That same year, Clinton told the
  National Press Club he hadn't violated
  state or federal drug laws.

  Only in 1992, when asked directly if he had
  smoked marijuana while in graduate
  school or if he had violated international
  drug laws, did Clinton finally fess up. ''I've
  never broken a state law, but when I was
  in England I experimented with marijuana
  a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't
  inhale it, and never tried it again.'' So why
  didn't he just say that in the first place?
  ''Nobody's ever asked me that question
  point blank,'' he
  said.

  These mealy-mouthed explanations and
  non-denial denials are mirrored in White
  House policies that were negligent or
  worse. The Secret Service reports that
  more than 40 staffers brought in by Clinton
  had such serious (and recent) drug
  problems that they had to enter a
  special testing program for security
  reasons.

  Clinton himself has equivocated on the
  issue. Through his first three years in
  office, he was nearly silent on the subject
  of illegal drugs. And in his now-infamous
  appearance on MTV, he joked about them.
  Asked if he would ''inhale'' if he had all to
  do over again, he said, ''Sure, I would
  if I could. I tried before.'' We doubt if he
  would make such jokes about
  children smoking cigarettes.

  The real tragedy here is that Clinton
  inherited a successful anti- drug
  strategy. In the '80s and early '90s, former
  drug czar Bill Bennett notes, ''America saw
  an astonishing reduction in drug use:
  down more than 50% between 1979 . . .
  and 1992, with a reduction of almost 80%
  in cocaine use between 1985 (the peak for
  cocaine) and 1992.''

  Yet candidate Clinton blasted President
  Bush for not fighting ''a real drug war.''

  After winning, Clinton showed what he
  meant by a ''real'' war: Downgrading
  enforcement of drug laws and treating the
  use of illegal drugs as a medical, not a
  moral, issue. On the books, drugs like
  cocaine were still illegal, but his
  enforcement amounted to de facto
  legalization. Treatment and tolerance
  became his watchwords.

  The ''Just Say No'' days were over. Instead
  of working to harden social attitudes
  against illegal drugs and discouraging
  first-time use - the great achievement of
  Reagan-Bush drug policy - Clinton decided
  to pour money into treatment for hard-core
  addicts. His failure to police the first-use
  gateway ensures that there will be plenty
  of addicts to treat, for a long time.

  ''I have never, never, never seen a
  president who cares less about this
  issue,'' said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

  Clinton has since buried an administration-
  sponsored drug study that declared his
  policy a failure. He also has buried a
  memo from Drug Enforcement Agency
  head Thomas Constantine and FBI director
  Louis Freeh that blasted White House drug
  policies.

  The two top cops warned that the country
  is ''lacking any true leadership.'' Worse, ''if
  firm new action isn't taken soon,'' we will
  face ''a national nightmare that will kill
  and maim and terrorize our people in
  perpetuity.''

  The numbers back them up:

  Monthly drug use among teenagers is up
  78% since 1992, jumping 33% last year
  alone.

  Marijuana use has increased 37% between
  1994 and 1995 and more than doubled
  since 1992.

  Monthly cocaine use by teens has
  exploded, rising 166% in the last
  year.

  The University of Michigan's Monitoring
  the Future Study, which tracks drug use
  among teens, found that they don't believe
  drugs are a dangerous as they did in the
  '80s. High school seniors who see ''great
  risk,'' for instance, fell from 78.6% in 1991
  to 60.8% in 1995.

  This comes at a time when two highly
  dangerous and addictive drugs, heroin
  and methamphetamine, are back in
  vogue.

  As the election drew near, Clinton had one
  of his convenient conversions - up to a
  point, at least. More drug enforcement
  funding, renewed White House drug
  testing and tough talk from the new drug
  czar are all welcome steps. But can they
  make up for the attitude problem that
  Clinton has done so much to create?

  And how long will Gen. Barry McCaffrey
  stay as drug czar? Will he get the needed
  support - fiscal, political, moral - from the
  Oval Office after Nov. 5? Judging from
  Clinton's past record on election-time
  promises, McCaffrey should not plan on a
  long stay.

  Election-year flip-flop aside, Clinton has
  failed to use his great rhetorical gifts - and
  the persuasive power of his office - to
  good effect here. Even teen-agers listen to
  what the president says. When the
  president jokes about smoking marijuana,
  they take the whole issue of drugs and
  drug laws much less seriously.

  Wayne Roques, a former DEA agent, said,
  ''Since Clinton took office, I haven't gone
  to one school where some of the kids
  didn't laugh at drugs because of the
  president's comments.''

  For a president who prides himself on
  feeling the people's pain and grasping
  their needs, in this area he has been
  woefully out of touch.

  On this front Clinton has, conspicuously,
  failed to protect kids - who don't know any
  better - and to support parents.


  Copyright 1996 Investors Business Daily
  10-30-96

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