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December 2000

Youthful Indiscretions?

By Antonio R. Serna

I have just finished reading Governor W. Bush's biography as written by Mr. J.H. Hatfield, who is a syndicated columnist, freelance Texas journalist and frequent contribute to several Lone Star newspapers and magazines. He has authored over half a dozen books, including three biographies of twentieth-century cultural icons. In 1997, he was the recipient of a prestigious international Isaac Asimov Foundation Literary Award for outstanding biography of an actor (Patrick Stewart) in a sci-fi series of film. He has no known criminal record. The "Fortunate Son" is an excellent written account of Governor Bush's life with more researched details in it than any of the numerous other books written about his biography. More than sixty pages of the book have been devoted to the extensive list of source materials that the author used for the reader's reference. There is one damaging episode in the Governor's life that was not as highlighted in the other books as it was in "Fortunate Son." It is the Governor's alleged brush with the law in the early 1970s concerning drug possession. The Governor's handlers have vehemently denied this and dismiss any allegation of substance abuse by the Governor during his youthful days as nothing more than unsubstantiated "rumors" designed to besmirch the Governor's good name and unblemished integrity.

The publication of the "Fortunate Son," however, was an excellent opportunity to debunk those alleged "rumors" once and for all. They should have openly contested the book's allegations in court and thrown its author in jail for libel if his accounts were proven untrue. That is what anyone is expected to do when unfairly accused of falsehoods and unsubstantiated wrong doing. We have laws for that purpose. But Governor Bush and his advisers chose to cover up the whole matter by having the book unceremoniously recalled on grounds that the allegations in the book are unsubstantiated and was written by a felon on parole whose credibility should be in question.

Recalling the book and allowing its author to get away with it, unpunished, particularly if it is true that he is indeed a felon on parole, does not clear the good name of the Governor. On the contrary, it only creates in the minds of the American people, and understandably so, the perception that the author may have his facts well substantiated and therefore will hold up in a court of law if the matter is brought up for litigation - hence, it is more prudent to settle the matter out of court.

In the name of truth, honesty and fairness, Governor Bush should allow the book to be read by the American people and let them decide if the allegations contained therein are indeed false and unsubstantiated (for which the author should be held legally liable) or if the reported 1972 cocaine episode, is one of those "youthful indiscretions" that he has earlier admitted to. Sooner or later, the truth will prevail and its dire consequences can prove to be-big time. After reading the "Fortunate Son" and observing how a question of libel was resolved by a neat cover-up, one would raise the question: Who between the two candidates in the current Presidential elections should be harping on the question of credibility?

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