That means he was either drunk off his ass, or under the influence of other drugs. But it also means that he was willingly at parties where people were using such drugs, if he’s not sure if he himself partook. Nice.
McClellan tracks Bush’s penchant for self-deception back to an overheard incident on the campaign trail in 1999 when the then-governor was dogged by reports of possible cocaine use in his younger days.
The book recounts an evening in a hotel suite “somewhere in the Midwest.” Bush was on the phone with a supporter and motioned for McClellan to have a seat.
“‘The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,’ I heard Bush say. ‘You know, the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don’t remember.'”
“I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?” McClellan wrote. “How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn’t make a lot of sense.”
Bush, according to McClellan, “isn’t the kind of person to flat-out lie.”
“So I think he meant what he said in that conversation about cocaine. It’s the first time when I felt I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true, and that, deep down, he knew was not true,” McClellan wrote. “And his reason for doing so is fairly obvious — political convenience.”
In the years that followed, McClellan “would come to believe that sometimes he convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment.” McClellan likened it to a witness who resorts to “I do not recall.”