Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jan 2008
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2008 Star-Telegram Operating, Ltd.


BALTIMORE -- President Bush is talking more openly lately about his old 
drinking habit, and on Tuesday he offered perhaps his most pointed 
assessment yet by saying plainly that the term "addiction" had applied to him.

"Addiction is hard to overcome. As you might remember, I drank too much at 
one time in my life," Bush said during a visit to the Jericho Program, a 
project of Episcopal Community Services of Maryland that helps former 
prisoners deal with problems such as drug addiction so they can find jobs 
and reintegrate productively into society.

Bush spoke to reporters after meeting privately with two men who have 
graduated from Jericho's program and dealt with drug problems. During that 
session, which the White House allowed one reporter to attend, Bush spoke 
frankly about himself.

"I understand addiction, and I understand how a changed heart can help you 
deal with addiction," he told the two men. "There's some kind of commonality."

He asked Adolphus Mosely and Tom Boyd how they stopped using drugs -- and 
then answered his own question.

"First is to recognize that there is a higher power," Bush said. "It helped 
me in my life. It helped me quit drinking."

"That's right, there is a higher power," Mosely said.

"Step One, right?" Bush said, referring to the Alcoholics Anonymous 
twelve-steps program. Actually, it is the second step.

When the president spoke publicly, flanked by both men, it was plain that 
it was a powerful subject for him personally.

"These are men who were, in some ways, lost, and lonely, and found love and 
redemption at Jericho," Bush said. "Proud to be with you."

He hailed them for now being "reunited with their daughters." "Girls love 
their dad, especially a redeemed dad," said Bush, father of 26-year-old 
twins Jenna and Barbara.

The 61-year-old president decided to quit drinking the day after a 
particularly boozy 40th-birthday celebration -- July 6, 1986.

He has often credited both his Christian faith and vigorous exercise with 
giving him the discipline he needed to execute that decision and to keep to 
it since, with nonalcoholic beers the only indulgence he says he allows.

As was typical, Bush said during a November 2000 news conference in which 
he admitted pleading guilty in 1976 to drunken driving that he merely 
"occasionally drank too much" as a younger man. He told an interviewer that 
same year that alcohol "was beginning to compete for my affections" before 
he quit.

Bush's stop was designed to emphasize a point in his State of the Union 
address Monday night: He wants Congress to allow the federal government to 
give grants to religious charities to perform social services without 
requiring them to make fundamental changes in hiring and other practices.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D