Yesterday the front page headlines of a US newspaper read “BUSH'S BOOZE CRISIS”.
OK, so it was the National Enquirer - a supermarket daily known for its trashy gossip content. A couple of decades ago this tabloid gave up its famously cooked-up ‘abducted by Martians’ type of stories to make way for celebrity obsessed gossip. Oddly enough, to avoid libel suits, National Enquirer has now garnered a reputation for its reporting accuracy. As the US journal Slate recently commented:
Now with the intro over, this is what the National Enquirer actually had to say about Bush:
Striving for the kind of journalistic accuracy that repels libel suits, the tabloid paid many of its sources and scrupulously reported and fact checked its pieces …
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.
Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.
Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.
His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time, Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on Dubya, the sources add.
"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: "Stop George!""
Laura gave him an ultimatum before, 'It's Jim Beam or me.' She doesn't want to replay that nightmare — especially now when it's such tough going for her husband."
Bush is under the worst pressure of his two terms in office and his popularity is near an all-time low. The handling of the Katrina crisis and troop losses in Iraq have fueled public discontent and pushed Bush back to drink.
A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him — but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months."
The war in Iraq, the loss of American lives, has deeply affected him. He takes every soldier's life personally. It has left him emotionally drained.
The result is he's taking drinks here and there, likely in private, to cope. "And now with the worst domestic crisis in his administration over Katrina, you pray his drinking doesn't go out of control."
Another source said: "I'm only surprised to hear that he hadn't taken a shot sooner. Before Katrina, he was at his wit's end. I've known him for years. He's been a good ol' Texas boy forever. George had a drinking problem for years that most professionals would say needed therapy. He doesn't believe in it [therapy], he never got it. He drank his way through his youth, through college and well into his thirties. Everyone's drinking around him."
Another source said: "A family member told me they fear George is 'falling apart.' The First Lady has been assigned the job of gatekeeper." Bush's history of drinking dates back to his youth. Speaking of his time as a young man in the National Guard, he has said: "One thing I remember, and I'm most proud of, is my drinking and partying. Those were the days my friends. Those were the good old days!"
So can it be true? Many people think so – including Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush On The Couch: Inside The Mind Of The President. Dr Frank told the Enquirer:
“I do think that Bush is drinking again,” Frank said. “Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great. I think it's a concern that Bush disappears during times of stress. He spends so much time on his ranch. It's very frightening.”I can only endorse the views expressed by the Capitol Hill Blue blogger:
It’s scary enough to have a nutcase in the White House. It’s even scarier to think that nutcase may be drunk.