Democratic Underground

Youthful Indiscretions: A Guide to Getting It On
August 6, 2001
by Ryan Monceaux

If you want to break the law, go for it. If you want to be immoral, go for it. If you want to sleep with your neighbor's wife, do it. If you want to snort coke and drive drunk, go for it. If you want to desert the United States military, go for it. If you want to run for president on a segregation and anti-civil rights plank, go for it.

And when you get older and someone calls you out for it, just claim it was a "youthful indiscretion."

Apparently, this is the new line in Washington. From Bush's coke binges to Henry Hyde sleeping with married women to Bush's nominee as Ambassador to Ireland Richard Egan going AWOL from the Marines and breaking campaign finance laws to Strom Thurmond running as a Dixiecrat on a plank dominated by segregation and racism, the arrogant claim of "youthful indiscretion" has never been more in vogue than it is now.

So my advice is to jump on that ship now! But do it now, because by the time that the next Democrat seems likely to win the presidency, all of this will be swept under the rug.

If you'll recall, it was only 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for office and his personal morality was called into question. Then-governor of Arkansas, Clinton was harassed by the right-wing establishment for:

• Smoking marijuana as a youth

• Unsubstantiated claims of infidelity

• Being a draft dodger

• Breaking the law with the Whitewater deal.

Then and now, Clinton was the anti-Christ with a low sense of morals and even a lower sense of common decency. He was lambasted by the right and we were all told that he was unfit for office.

But man, how times change. Now, a stable of the right's finest claim that their "youthful indiscretions" should be overlooked because they all occurred in the past.

So let's review. Which is worse:

• Smoking marijuana in college OR coking up as late as your early 40s?

• Discredited claims of infidelity where political opponents financed alleged victims OR breaking up a woman's marriage after you've turned 40?

• Going to school in England and disagreeing with the war in Vietnam OR going AWOL for a year (Bush) or going AWOL for a year and being convicted (Egan)?

• Being accused of illegal dealings in White Water with no proof or convictions after 6 years of investigation OR breaking federal law and agreeing to pay a stiff fine instead of jail time or a trial?

• Opposing a law that allows unsafe Mexican trucks onto already unsafe Texas and American highways OR making America's highways unsafe after being arrested for DUI twice?

Clearly, it's a great time to be a Republican with a past of shady dealings. There may be no other time in our country's future to exploit unlawfulness as there is today. Embrace it and make the most of it. But make certain you are well versed in mentioning Clinton's cock or Whitewater or socialist health care. There's no defense like an avoiding-the-issue offense!

Monceaux is a writer in Houston, Texas. He's genuinely embarrassed that George Bush was his governor for six years. You can e-mail him at

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