Some months back an advertiser slammed George W. Bush, leading to a bunch of complaints by readers who wondered if I was some sort of “right-wing pukebag” (as one reader put it).
Last week an advertiser asked, “Is Bill Clinton an Alcoholic?” — one of a series of ads for the publisher of an addiction newsletter.
“Naturally,” several readers wrote to complain, wondering if I’m some sort of Cold Hearted Conservative.
Hello? Repeat after me: It’s an ad! Advertisers are supposed to grab your attention! And note it’s a question, not a statement. If We The People can’t ask questions about our leaders, what sort of a nation are we?
Anyway, several readers demanded that the advertiser explain himself. Since my policy is to never supply reader addresses to any third party, especially advertisers, I ended up acting as a go-between for a couple of readers who didn’t want the advertiser to have their address.
The advertiser’s explanation was interesting enough that I’m excerpting it here. One reader particularly wanted to know why he didn’t “bash” Bush instead of Clinton (sure: that wouldn’t have caused a bunch of reaction!)
The advertiser, author Doug Thorburn, responds:
I believe Mr. Clinton has the disease of alcoholism. It’s the only thing that could possibly explain his behaviors. He does have anti-social behavior — he committed a number of crimes in office. Whether you agree with him or not, or think that he should not have been impeached, is beside the point.
The very best thing that could ever happen to help people better understand alcoholism would be for Clinton to publicly state he is in AA and that his alcoholism explained his bad side. If you ask almost any recovering addict with five+ years sobriety about the possibility that alcoholism might explain Clinton’s behaviors, you’ll get a resounding ‘of course!’ after they ponder it for about two seconds. Ask anyone else, and you might get your response. It’s defensive, because to be ‘labeled’ an alcoholic carries a terrible stigma.
I hope, with my next book, to put that myth (that being an alcoholic is ‘bad’) to rest. The amazing thing about alcoholism is that it explains both bad behaviors AND over-achievement. I explain this paradox in my book. How else could 30% of Academy Award winning actors have had alcoholism? Do not confuse the real person with the idiot created by chemistry. So many people don’t get the idea that alcoholism EXPLAINS behaviors. As for George W. Bush, he IS a recovering alcoholic. There’s a huge difference in behaviors between practicing and recovering addicts.
I consider my readers to be much more intelligent than average, and I know most of them “get it”, especially considering we covered this topic so recently. But that there are people this stupid even among my readership just goes to show: I’ll never, ever have a shortage of material for this column.
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