Honesty best policy for presidential hopefuls
This week, Sen. Clinton apologized for a campaign staffer's comments about Sen. Barack Obama's drug use as an adolescent. Obama admitted in a 1995 book to experimenting with drugs and alcohol as an adolescent. He also honestly answered a question...
This week, Sen. Clinton apologized for a campaign staffer's comments about Sen. Barack Obama's drug use as an adolescent.
Obama admitted in a 1995 book to experimenting with drugs and alcohol as an adolescent. He also honestly answered a question about chemical usage in November in front of a high school audience in New Hampshire.
The November admission touched off a debate among some presidential hopefuls on the merits of honesty among political leaders for "youthful indiscretions." GOP hopeful Mitt Romney took aim at Obama's admission, saying it was improper to discuss indiscretions of the past.
One of Clinton's staffers commented the admission might be used in the general election to Obama's detriment.
But admissions of candidates about substance use and public opinion on those matters have grown more honest during the last 20 years, from Bill Clinton's "I smoked but didn't inhale" defense to George W. Bush's admission of driving while intoxicated.
Some critics may argue admissions of substance use or abuse by role models lead teenagers to try drugs or alcohol. But acknowledging a mistake should not make a candidate less desirable if the candidate also admits the problems caused by the use.
Advocates of drug and alcohol prevention say honesty is the best policy, both for parents and other role models.
Teenagers are not na?ve about drug use. Voters of all ages are able to see right past a dodge about past usage and, furthermore, resent being lied to. The best possible outcome, if a candidate used drugs, is to be honest about both use and effects.
The kids obviously do not need to hear details of use, which would serve to glamorize the habits. Understanding the consequences of a choice to use drugs, however, can be an effective deterrent.
Those who drink and abuse drugs rarely find the experience pleasant for long. Learning about the harsh realities of abuse and addiction serves as a valuable lesson, even if a user eventually just discovers chemicals are a waste of what would be an otherwise productive life.
While drug use is not an admirable quality, honesty is. If a candidate cannot be honest about the past, he or she does not deserve to lead the country.