Rand Paul vs. Jeb Bush and Pot Smoking: Hypocrisy is the Compliment Vice Pays to Politics


So former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has admitted to smoking marijuana while in prep school, telling the Boston Globe:

"I drank and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover," explaining the behavior was "pretty common."

As Florida governor, Bush good in many ways, especially on fiscal issues during his first term (he has been, at least until recently, very good on immigration from a free-market angle). He has never been good on the drug war, however, and his acknowledgement of past use along with the substance-abuse issues surrounding one of his children will only make this a higher-profile issue.

Another leading contender for the GOP nod, Sen. Rand Paul, is alone among Republicans eyeing 2016 in calling for a change in marijuana policy (a change, it's worth noting, that enjoys majority support among Americans). Paul told the Hill:

"You would think he'd have a little more understanding then," Paul told The Hill while en route to a political event in Texas.

"He was even opposed to medical marijuana," Paul said of Bush, a potential rival in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. "This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.

"I think that's the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that," he said.

"Had he been caught at Andover, he'd have never been governor, he'd probably never have a chance to run for the presidency," he added.

More here.

Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party enjoys high approval ratings. Last fall, for instance, Gallup found just 36 percent of Americans thought well of the Democratic Party and 42 percent thought good thoughts of the GOP. Pew Research finds 41 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party and 46 percent feel good about Democrats.

There's plenty of room for improvement, then, and federal and state marijuana policy reform should be a no-brainer for Republicans as they discuss forward-looking policy issues. Given the GOP's emphasis on devolving decisionmaking to the states, Republicans should obviously embrace allowing states to make a decision upon pot. Given the GOP's rhetoric about getting the government out of people's lives, at the state level, its members should be calling for an end of pot prohibition, replacing failed, expensive policies with penalties against public harms caused by intoxication. Republicans know as well as anyone that the solution to drunk driving, say, is not to ban alchohol sales but to punish drunk drivers. So it should be with other intoxicants.

Given his family's struggles with substance abuse, Bush is even in a better position than most to explain another benefit of standing down in the drug war: Keeping drugs illegal makes it that much harder for people with problems to seek treatment. If you've got a use problem (whether pot, booze, heroin, you name it), it's hard enough to confront. Exposing someone to criminal penalties on top of that makes it that much harder to deal.

After the 2012 presidential election loss by Mitt Romney, the Republican Party said it was going to do a total reboot and figure out what it should stand for in the future. In many ways, Rand Paul is about the only national Republican leader who is taking that seriously. He's always been great on spending and privacy issues; he's now becoming increasingly outspoken on the drug war, sentencing reform, and foreign policy. He alone has actually been reaching out to new audiences, from minorities to alienated rural white voters.

His position on the drug war could (and should!) be much more openly libertarian, IMO. But he's right to push Jeb Bush and other would-be presidential candidates to face up to the hypocrisy of their stance toward pot and other drugs. It's not simply personal hypocrisy, either, that they smoked dope and got away with it. It's the ideological hypocrisy that's worse. You say you're for getting the government out of people's lives but you want to regulate our intoxicants of choice? That sort of flagrant contradiction, which extends to many GOP positions on personal and social issues, is surely one reason Republicans as a concept are well below 50 percent approval.

That Paul's position is also likely to be popular among voters and to pique the curiosity of independents who really want to focus on core government functions is just a bonus. Voters are clearly fed up with not just the pragmatic failures of both parties and their leaders over the past 15 years. We're also fed up with the intellectual and ideological confusion too. The party that actually starts adhering to its stated principles will realign politics massively and powerfully. It's not complicated, but it will mean actually being serious about what you say and then following through on it.

NEXT: Super Bowl XLIX as a Case Study in the Mechanics of Pro-War Propaganda

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  1. “I think in politics the biggest thing, the thing that voters from any part of the spectrum hate worse than anything is hypocrisy. And hypocrisy is, ‘Hey I did it and it’s okay for me because I was rich and at an elite school but if you’re poor and black or brown and live in a poor section of one of our big cities, we’re going to put you in jail and throw away the key,’ ” Paul said.

    This was the best quote. BOOM!

    1. It bothers me that I occasionally think of Rand Paul in the same way that some on the Left thought of Obama.

      “Get in there and save us!”

      I don’t have any pants-leg tingle, though. That was just the weirdest comment ever from Matthews.

    2. Except, I don’t think it’s true. I don’t see evidence it’s true.

      1. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

        Black people by the numbers smoke marijuana at about a 20% greater rate than white people. Black people have over a 360% greater chance of being arrested. If you don’t see the obviously racial disparity in how the law is enforced then you might be a racist……..minorities

  2. Jeb Bush has inadvertently helped the cause of liberty. Even my Obot acquaintances are now waking up and realizing (i) that Republican politicians, by and large, are pro-government and in particular pro-nanny-state and (ii) that that isn’t a good thing.

    1. and who are your Obot acquaintances going to vote for in 2016? I seriously doubt it is going to be Rand if he gets the nomination.

      1. Something about a journey of a thousand miles applies here. I never said that they were going to do a complete transformation overnight.

  3. “He was even opposed to medical marijuana,” Paul said of Bush, a potential rival in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. “This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.

    That’s a crappy argument. If he ever drove over 55 mph, is it hypocritical to say that speed laws should not be repealed?

    Right conclusion, wrong logic.

    1. Yes, he’s a hypocrite, just like mr. choom gang. They should be pounded on their hypocrisy constantly.

      1. Why? It doesn’t hurt their popularity. If anything, it just seems to paint the pounder as mean & distracting.

        1. Yes, it is very mean to point out that if they really believe in the drug war, they should resign and report to prison immediately.

          Say what you want, but the tu quoque works pretty well here.

    2. It’s a very valid argument. He thinks people should be punished for smoking pot. Fine then if he isn’t hypocritical he needs to figure out a way to serve a similar punishment for what he did. To think some people should be thrown To think a different standard should apply to yourself then other people is text book hypocrisy. If you feel the limit should be a strictly enforced 55 and you drive 59 you are also a hypocrite.

      1. ok got caught in my own edits without proof reading. should have read

        It’s a very valid argument. He thinks people should be punished for smoking pot. Fine then if he isn’t hypocritical he needs to figure out a way to serve a similar punishment for what he did. To think a different standard should apply to yourself then other people is text book hypocrisy. If you feel the limit should be a strictly enforced 55 and you drive 59 you are also a hypocrite.

        1. What if you drove 59 20 years ago? Do you have an obligation to resign your office?

          You’re letting your love for the conclusion cloud your logic.

          1. There’s no equivlency between a speeding ticket and a drug conviction. Not the same. Not even similar.

            Hypothetically, if a politician comes out and says the speed limit should be enforced and it comes to light that he got away with speeding in the past, then yeah, either he should insist he be given a ticket or he’s a hypocrite and should be reminded of it at every public event.

            Jeb Bush it worse than a hypocrite on this issue, but there’s no question that he is that.

          2. I think if I intentionally drove 59 and was advocating for other people to be fined the intellectually consistent and non-hypocritical thing to do would be to fine myself (charitable gift? Extra taxes?).

            To not do so is in fact hypocrisy. We are all guilty of it at some point in life but the difference is

            1. Your scenario is rather minor hypocrisy in terms of effect. The difference between a $50 ticket and nothing is far less than the difference between 2 years of prison and nothing.

            2. This is someone who would actively and affirmatively punish people for what he did making his hypocrisy far more morally egregious.

            The truth of the matter is if you intentionally drive 10 over and think others should be ticketed for that you are a hypocrite. Your hypocrisy is just far less immoral and destructive. than Jebs hypocrisy.

          3. this is a stretch. Never mind that no one gets tossed in jail for going 59 and never mind that speed limit laws are constructed to protect others from your losing control of a car. And Bush’s stance would carry a lot more weight, and less hypocrisy, if it was along the lines of “I did it and it was stupid, I saw a lot of bad things happen to others who did, blah blah….”

            1. Yeah, I’m sure lots of bad stuff happened to his classmates at Andover. Heck, I bet some of them are worth only 7 figures and never became CEO!

    3. Well I think one could argue that at some point high speeds on the road actually endanger other people, so NAP. Smoking pot – as far as I know – does not engage NAP.

      1. I’m not arguing in favor or against speed laws, the point is that having broken a law yourself in the past does not make you a hypocrite for believing that the law is a good one.

        In this case, it’s a really shitty one, but lots of people (including Bush) sincerely disagree with that. Argue the shittiness of the law on the basis of its shittiness, not some stupid “gotcha” maneuver.

        1. I’m not arguing about speed laws either just the type of law. You claim that breaking a law once does not make you a hypocrite for believing the law is good now.

          My claim is that your claim is too general.

        2. No what makes you a hypocrite is clamoring for others to be punished for breaking that law while not ensuring that you are punished yourself.

          The hypocrisy is not from supporting a law you broke. It is for supporting policies that punish others for what you got away with.

          Bush can build a cage in the back of his mansion and live there eating gruel for a year while bringing in a burly guy to periodically rape him.

          Once he has done that he can support these laws without being a hypocrite.

          The distasteful nature of the solution doesn’t negate the hypocrisy.

    4. No one’s life is ruined over a speeding ticket and presumably Jeb and his buddies weren’t ill-affected by smoking the hippie lettuce. I think it is a valid argument.

      So either way, Jeb’s position is shit, especially with regard to medical marijuana. All Paul has to do is run ads featuring testimonials from people who’ve benefited from medical marijuana and point out that Jeb Bush thinks those people or their sick children should endure horrific pain.

      1. So either way, Jeb’s position is shit

        It is shit. Concentrate the argument there.

      2. Noone’s life is ruined over most crimes, because most criminals aren’t caught.

        1. I get the feeling I’m engaging with the wrong sort here, but:

          Isn’t that exactly why there are a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities in jail for drug crimes? Don’t you think there’s something wrong with the goal of not getting caught?

          1. Those may both be true, but irrelevant to the issue of whether it’s hypocrisy & whether it bothers voters.

            1. Yeah, I understand now.


    5. Also, the charge of hypocrisy depends on whether or not Jeb thinks college him should have faced stiff criminal penalties for his marihuana usage.

      One of his buddies said Jeb was the person you saw if you wanted to score hashish. Not hard to imagine that warranting a possession with intent to distribute charge.

      1. One minor point is that, in some states, possession of less than an ounce was a misdemeanor in the 1970s.

    6. Let’s stop using speed limits as an analogy. In a libertarian world, do readers think road owners would have a right to make rules about speed? Do you think that it would make sense to do so? The govt. is just a stand-in for those road owners in our less-than-libertarian world. I don’t like that, you don’t like that, but that’s what we have to live with, for now.
      Thing is, every day life in a libertarian wouldn’t be that different from life in the US now. There would be conventions about tail light colors, which side of the road to drive on, etc., and disincentives to steal stuff, cheat, mug, murder, drive while intoxicated, etc.

  4. Said this earlier, but Rand should compliment the Jebster’s earlier pioneering attitude with regard to weed.

  5. If he ever drove over 55 mph, is it hypocritical to say that speed laws should not be repealed?

    Kinda, yeah, but there are a couple of differences. Whether they matter to you is, well, up to you:

    (1) Its easy to inadvertently drive over the speed limit. We’re-all-ginna-die-from-pot-candy hysterics aside, its really hard to smoke pot by accident.

    (2) Speeding violations are generally cash-only deals, unlike the WoD, which has spawned an entire police state replete with goon squads, rape cages , etc.

    1. (2) Speeding violations are generally cash-only deals

      So are most pot possession cases. But that’s beside the point- it is still ultimately enforced by state violence.

      1. No. Pot possession cases have far worse consequences than speeding cases. Hell, pot possession arrests with dropped charges are worse than reckless driving convictions.

        You lose CCW permits, get barred from entering Canada, lose security clearances…

    2. Pretty much. You can see this in the cops horror over Waze. Waze is pretty much rendering speed traps useless. And the cops can’t stand it. They want it banned. How are they supposed to generate revenue without speed traps?

      1. Fuck them and their butt hurt over Waze

    3. OK, I’ll confess to hypocrisy. When I was a kid, we used to go out on Halloween and fuck shit up (the bomb-making may be what put me on my current career path).

      And now that I’m an adult, I support anti-vandalism laws.

      I am covered in rue.

      1. That really is the dumbest argument. By that logic, someone who is or was once a drug addict, has no standing to tell someone it is a bad idea to do drugs.

        The really retarded variant of this kind of argument is the “if you collect social security or drive on roads or get any benefit from the government, you are a hypocrite to argue against the government doing something”.

        1. There’s a vast difference between advising someone not to do drugs and putting them in a cage.

          1. Sure there is. But the rightness or wrongness of that has nothing to do with whether the person saying it has ever done drugs.

            1. But the rightness or wrongness of that has nothing to do with whether the person saying it has ever done drugs.

              True enough that hypocrisy charges are a form of ad hominem.

              Of course, so is impeaching a witness or otherwise attacking someone’s credibility.

              You don’t undermine the credibility of a former addict advising people to stay away from drugs by pointing out he is a former user himself. Hell, that’s the source of his credibility.

              You do undermine the credibility of a WoDder by pointing out they used to be a recreational user. It attacks many of their arguments and assertions to point out that they seem to have done just fine, etc.

              1. True enough that hypocrisy charges are a form of ad hominem.

                So with all the good arguments to be made, why use a shitty argument?

          2. and as a former governor, Bush had the standing for saying no to cages, even if he also said no to drugs themselves. But he was not some reluctant drug warrior.

        2. A former drug addict has every standing in the world to tell people its a bad idea.

          It was a bad idea for me and it would be a bad idea for you.

          No hypocrisy there at all.

          Hypocrisy is

          It was awesome for me and I’m glad I did it but you can’t it will ruin your life.

          Basically any socon parent you might meet.

          1. Basically any socon parent you might meet.

            Hi Bo

            1. No I’m not Bo. Do you disagree that there is a strong strain of hypocrisy among socons as it pertains to various vices?

              Regardless that point is not the thrust of my comment so feel free to pretend it didn’t exist so we can all enjoy rainbows and unicorn farts together on this thread while singing in perfect pitch harmony.

              1. No, you had valid points that I completely agreed with until you collectivized all socons as hypocrites. Bo is famous for collectivizing all socons as the evil of the world so I was tweaking him not you.

                And no, I don’t see a strong strain of hypocrisy among SoCons. I see some hypocrisy practiced across all of society.

                1. Agree we are all hypocritical at some point or another no question. In terms of politics though I find progressives and socons to be the most hypocritical. The reason is they both invoke philosophical frameworks and claim their beliefs flow from those frameworks when in reality there is shit they want to do and their alleged philosophy is merely a rationalization for what they want to do.

                  When your belief system is merely a rationalization you are going to hit your LD50 of hypocrisy every time.

                  Also the similarity between socons and conservatives is why they hate each other so much. To a progressive looking at a socon is like looking in a mirror and vice versa.

                  All above statements are generalizations of course.

          2. Actually “It was awesome for me and I’m glad I did it but you can’t it will ruin your life.” Should be “It was awesome for me and I’m glad I did it but you can’t or I will ruin your life.”

  6. Given the GOP’s rhetoric about getting the government out of people’s lives…

    What are you talking about? When was the last time you heard such rhetoric from a sitting Republican?

    1. But…but…the Republicans are all secretly Anarcho-capitalists who want to shut down the government! MSDNC told me so!

    2. Rand Paul, Amash, Massie

  7. Jeb Bush and those in the GOP like him are like addicts. Sure they say the right things about the need for a small government, but like an addict just wanting that one more hit or one more beer, they just can’t resist the power of government when it comes to an issue they think is important.

    Jeb Bush will often say some very smart things. He does a great job of creating the impression that he is for small government right up until he starts talking about common core. When he does that its like everything he said before somehow doesn’t count. Common core is for him what the “oh its just a glass of wine, it won’t hurt” is for the degenerate drunk. No Jeb, Washington has no business telling local communities and parents how to educate their kids or deciding what the “standards” for a decent education are. If it does, then the Progressives are right and it ought to be telling people how to do a lot of other things.

    They just can’t walk away from the crack pipe of government. Sure government is bad and has done all of these bad things, but that doesn’t mean it can’t solve the problems I care about is exactly how they think.

    1. I have often wondered about studying the brain chemistry of drug warriors in the same way as they do with drug addicts. I have a funny feeling that there would be some shocking similarities. I also have a funny feeling that grant wouldn’t get approved.

      1. Some of them you would. Some people go from one ditch to the other. Talk to very hardcore Christians and you will find that a lot of them were once the most degenerate addicts and drunks. Talk to hard core atheists and you will find a good number of them were once equally hard core Christians.

        Some people only know how to do things to 11

        1. Well there’s a reason the old volume nobs went that high

        2. Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

          1. But why not just make 10 the loudest?

            1. But this goes to 11

        3. I used to be all messed up on drugs. Now I’m all messed up on the Lord.

        4. “Talk to very hardcore Christians and you will find that a lot of them were once the most degenerate addicts and drunks.”

          Yes, they trade one addiction for another.

          “Talk to hard core atheists and you will find a good number of them were once equally hard core Christians.”

          I’m not sure about a “good number,” but a few, certainly. I’d say some of them were children of hard-core Christians. I’d say others were raised in a “Christian” house where it wasn’t taken very seriously.

          Of course, there are the few that thought it through and concluded it was all bullshit.

  8. Thanks for the hat tip you ungrateful mammals

    1. They’re not going to ?encourage? you!

      1. That warm-blooded privelege at work again

        1. I, for one, welcome you and the other future lizard overlords.

  9. Of course, the key part about this for Jeb Bush is getting the marijuana story out now, and let people call him a hypocrite for a couple of days, so that nobody cares in 2016. This way there’s no rumermongering during the election about his past drug use, as there was with brother George in 2000 (constant innuendo about cocaine use, old DUI publicized just before election day).

    By the way, I noticed that Jeb’s actual name is John Ellis Bush. Those initials are J.E.B. Any wonder where the Jeb nickname comes from?

    1. Same as J.E.B. Stuart.

      1. Well, except if he were doing it the same, he’d’ve been “Jebs” Stuart.

  10. What if a politician said s/he’d shoplifted & stolen cars as a teen? Don’t you think voters would appreciate it if s/he took a position against shoplifting & car theft? And don’t you think that, if anything, the politician’s having committed such crimes in hir youth, would increase hir credibility on the issue?

    1. if someone has to explain to you the difference between a victimless act like smoking weed and stealing someone else’s property, this is not going to be a worthwhile discussion.

      1. If someone has to explain to you how to isolate the relevant point from someone’s argument & argue about that, you’d better forget about discussions.

        1. Um, that was his point. Malum prohibitum versus malum in se.

          1. No, that has nothing to do with the point Nick Gillespie was making. It has nothing to do with the type of crime. That’s why I deliberately changed the type of crime to others that are commonly done & gotten away with by teens, to take that consider’n entirely away, in case it was confusing someone. Someone upthread tried to do so with speeding, but that wasn’t clear enough. Apparently you’re still confused.

            1. i guess we just don’t deserve a better class of troll. That’s the worst part.

    2. WTF is “hir”? Just pick a fucking gender and stick with it, you’re not even talking about a real person so who the fuck has standing to be offended?

      In the scenario you describe, the politician is not the victim, he is the perpetrator. And if he has not made restitution to the victim, then he is less credible–not more–as a consequence. If he is proposing a penalty for the crime and is unrepentant about having done it, then he should suffer the same penalty. Lawmakers should not be immune from the laws they make.

      1. This is, of course, irrelevant to whether or not the law should exist. The credibility of the legislator should have no bearing on the validity of the law. In a democracy, however, credibility is more important than logic or morality.

      2. We should use the term “xe” instead of “he”, “she”, or “s/he”. In this way, we can also be inclusive of agendered people.

        I shit you not, I have actually seen this.

      3. I write “hir” & “s/he” so as not to constrain your imagination.

        What if the crimes occurred 30-40 yrs. before, the shop s/he stole from is long gone, and s/he never knew whose cars s/he was stealing?

        1. I now insist that you rewrite all of that using the pronoun “xe”.

          Check your privilege.

    3. “What if a politician said s/he’d shoplifted & stolen cars as a teen? Don’t you think voters would appreciate it if s/he took a position against shoplifting & car theft?”

      In the case of stealing or shoplifting, a politician would likely try to argue they have reformed and seen the error of their ways.

      From the snippet in the article, JEB makes no such argument, and instead seems to imply that yeah, he did pot, everyone around him did, and everyone turned out fine. No harm, no foul – except he wants to ruin future generations for doing the same thing.

      There is a reason there are large movements for legalizing pot, but no movements for legalizing car theft and shoplifting.

      1. Although I will admit that your handle seems somehow appropriate for this thread!

        1. I accept full responsibility for my fatal choices. Sorry that my death unleashed the drug war on the living.

      2. He wouldn’t’ve said it if he didn’t think people would mostly approve. If not, then why do you think he said it?

        1. You need to get off the drugs.

  11. He’s basically arguing against himself here. GW claimed that he reformed himself after his drinking and coke-snorting days, ie, he was heading on a destructive path before he turned himself around. On the other hand, JEB is basically saying, “yeah, I dabbled with pot. Who hasn’t?” He’s essentially making the point that anti-prohibitionists make: The vast majority of people who have smoked pot at some point in their lives have turned out just fine, himself included. But, he still wants to ruin the lives of others who have done the same as him, and will probably turn out just fine (as long as they don’t get caught).

    He may only take this position because it’s what he thinks his base wants to hear, but he’s still not making a coherent argument. He’s essentially conceding that the biggest danger facing someone who tries pot comes from the government, not the pot himself. And he’s fine with this.

    1. He may only take this position because it’s what he thinks his base wants to hear, but he’s still not making a coherent argument.

      What makes you think he’s arguing? He’s just giving the signals to the people who’re listening for them, not trying to convince anybody. That’s what politics is about. You don’t try to persuade anyone with politics, you just run things up the flagpole & see who salutes them.

      1. Come back when you’re sober.

  12. The fact of the matter is that the so called party of personal freedom is full of shit. Both parties have have contributed to the insane drug policies in this nation.pres Clinton smoked pot and I guess wasted it like asshole that he is but spent more on drug than Reagan goes to show that they all have to go. Rand Paul chances are not good because are shitty news media will try to bury him they like the status quo good luck rand

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