The Associated Press reports:
The Bush administration says it will enforce a previously ignored law denying federal financial aid to college students with drug convictions.
Let’s call this the Young and Irresponsible Act, because apparently the Bush administration believes that once someone young does something irresponsible involving drugs, it should have lifetime consequences. This is in stark contrast to Bush’s attitude toward his own youth. During the presidential campaign he repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he took drugs earlier in his life, evading the issue by saying, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.” Let’s take that as a “yes,” especially in light of the efforts Bush made to keep secret a drunk driving arrest at age 30 until he was forced into acknowledging it. While Bush never had to apply for a loan to pay for his education, he benefited from being someone who was given not just second or third but ten-thousandth chances.
But let’s leave aside the hypocrisy of Bush wanting to keep punishing someone young who has been through the criminal justice system because of involvement with drugs. Let’s even leave aside the issue of compassion. Let’s just acknowledge that it is a matter of enlightened self-interest for society to encourage people to get a college education who’ve brushed up against both drugs and the law. The Clinton administration simply ignored this regulation. Bush could have done more than that. He could have supported Rep. Barney Frank’s effort to repeal it, saying it sent a counterproductive message to people who were seeking to straighten out their lives. Instead, his Department of Education will enforce it. Well, no one ever said being young and irresponsible precludes being old and irresponsible.