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Sex, Drugs and Welfare Reform

Kausfiles descends into the gutter!


Posted Wednesday, July 14, 1999

        Mickey's Assignment Desk #2: Coke is Back. Went out with some friends about a month ago. Ordinary yuppie journalist types. After dinner, one of them invited me to join a group that was going back to X's place. "Some drugs may be consumed," I was told, by way of due process notification. I didn't go. But I was surprised, even shocked, because the drug in question, I learned, was cocaine. I'd thought the coke craze died out a decade ago. Then another friend told me he'd been similarly surprised to discover that his friends were doing coke. Then another said the same thing. My journalistic rule of thumb is that I'm not that special, so that if something happens to me, it's probably happening to a lot of other people. But three instances -- hey, that makes a Trend! Someone should write about it.

        Issues to discuss: a) Wasn't the Lesson of the Eighties that greed was bad and coke was an evil, destructive drug? How was this lesson unlearned? b) Won't there be horrible consequences, including the spread of the scary Hepatitis C virus--which can happen when coke-snorting straws gets passed around? c) Even if cocaine use is essentially benign in itself (which it isn't), isn't it monumentally hypocritical for affluent (mainly white) Americans to use this drug with cheerful impunity while doing nothing to prevent a good chunk of the population of poor, African-American men from being sent to prison for selling the same drug to people like them (or, even more unjustly, for simply using the same drug)?

        Assigned to: John Tierney, Alex Kuczynski, or Blaine Harden of the New York Times; Anna Quindlen of Newsweek (earn your $300,000 salary, sister!). ... Then Jack Shafer of Slate can write a column using drug statistics to argue that cocaine isn't back, it never left. But I won't believe him. ...

Burying the Lede

        Newt Gingrich has been separated from his wife Marianne for a number of months, and their marriage is heading for divorce, according to friends of the former House speaker. These friends say Newt did make an effort to keep the marriage together, even trying marriage counseling. . . .

Hillary and Welfare, continued . . .

        It's been pointed out to me that Hillary Clinton's decision to seek the counsel of a conservative supporter of the radical 1996 welfare reform bill in the period before that bill was signed by her husband (discussed in the 7/13 Kausfiles) was especially telling since it came at a time when the bill's desperate liberal opponents, people like Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, were having trouble getting through to the First Lady .... One New Yorker who got Hillary's role right is Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin, who wrote recently that she was "in on killing" Aid for Dependent Children (ADC), as the old welfare system was called. ... Of course Breslin, a liberal Hillaryphobe, absurdly calls ADC "the center of Roosevelt's legacy to this country." In fact, ADC was a little-noticed provision buried in Roosevelt's grand Social Security Act of 1935, which created not only Social Security pensions but also unemployment compensation, aid to the disabled, and a massive work program, the WPA, that Roosevelt created to replace what he called the "narcotic" of cash welfare ....

Copyright 1999 Mickey Kaus.

Joe Klein: Falling in Love Again!

posted 07.07.99