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Leading By Example: Drugs And The Presidency

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At some point the American public must take a stand and decide what they feel are appropriate aspects of the person that will represent them for four years as the President of the United States. But when will this be, and will it even happen at all? I feel that drug use by a presidential candidate at any time in his life is grounds for ineligibility to the office.
This issue has been raised once again as the time to elect a new president draws near. The Republican party's leading candidate, George W. Bush, has dodged questions about his involvement with illegal substances such as marijuana and cocaine by stating that he hasn't used them since at least 1974. Clearly, had he never used them he would have no trouble saying just that, but instead he is eluding the issue. Obviously this is the same as his saying that he has used drugs at some point in the past.
The president is the figure who will represent our entire country to the other nations of the world in diplomatic relations and in international news coverage. This is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly, after all, only forty-two men have had a chance to do it. Negative publicity created by something such as Bush's drug use will be broadcast to other countries. This should concern you, the reader, because the president's image is all some foreigners know of our country. For instance, consider the disgrace brought upon the United States by the President Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. This issue was the primary focus of the news for months. Although that scandal was not drug related, it still represents the type of distraction created when a leading media figure dabbles in immoral acts. There's no doubt that citizens and leaders of other countries were appalled at the fact that our leader had lied to the country about his personal involvement's. In this instance, Bush is not necessarily lying to the public but is disclosing information in an almost cowardly manner. It is a known fact that the United States is economically and technologically superior to the other nation's of the world. One would hope that its reputation would be upheld in a dignified manner.
Of course the argument exists that even the President should have a right to his private life. This is true, but only to a certain extent for two reasons. First of all, it is foolish to think that the media will respect any public official's private life. Ideally, the president would not have immoral acts in the past that can be exploited. Secondly, candidates like Bush should know that they are giving up certain rights when they decide to run for president. This is not to say that he should be spied on, but he should be willing to disclose important aspects of his life to the public so it can make an educated decision about whom it's next leader will be. This is our right as the public and, in a sense, the media is fighting for it.
Negative foreign publicity is not the only reason for not allowing controversial candidates such as Bush. The American public must also consider the question: what kind of a message is sent to the youth in America by this issue?
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