White House: Bush "has improved the lives of America's youth"

The president is touting figures showing a decline in teen drug use, but -- as always -- there's more to the story than he's letting on.

By Alex Koppelman
December 12, 2008 1:15AM (UTC)
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Apparently, the Bush administration still believes that simply insisting something is true, they can make it so. On Thursday, the White House put out a fact sheet with a truly modest headline: "President Bush Has Improved the Lives of America's Youth." 

It's an interesting way to close out Bush's term in office. When he was elected, and the country was generally prosperous and at peace, he was going to be the education president. Now, the administration is back to domestic policy focusing on youth -- they've got little else to celebrate.


The hook for the fact sheet was a new study that Bush claims shows a continuing decline in teen use of illicit drugs. At a press availability, he said, "[W]e are making progress. And one way to note the progress is this statistic: Since 2001, teenage use has declined by 25 percent. That means 900,000 fewer teens on drugs."

True enough. And yet, at the same time, the picture is not as rosy as the president made it sound. As the Associated Press' Ben Feller notes:

[T]here are troubling signs, too: carefree attitudes among young people about marijuana and a shift to prescription medicine as a drug of choice. Independent anti-drug experts say the progress during the Bush years has been mixed and that large numbers of kids still use drugs.

More than that, though Bush is trumpeting this stat now, the study that produced it, Feller reports, shows that "Over the past year, the use of drugs such as ecstasy, steroids and marijuana did not statistically change among the young people surveyed."


Clearly, though, young people are immensely grateful to Bush for the improvement he's brought to their lives. That's why they voted for Barack Obama over John McCain 66-32.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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