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August 2005
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Blind men describing an elephant

As I was reading this New York Times article and, in particular, the various quotes from supposedly learned people and political leaders, I coudn’t help but be reminded of this old story:

There are four blind men who discover an elephant. Since the men have never encountered an elephant, they grope about, seeking to understand and describe this phenomenon. One grasps the trunk and concludes it is a snake. Another explores one of the elephant’s legs and describes it as a tree. A third finds the elephant’s tail and announces that it is a rope. And the fourth blind man, after discovering the elephant’s side, concludes that it is, after all, a wall.

It’s not really that specifically apt an analogy, but it is instructive of the degree of the disconnect to the reality of the drug war, and the inability or unwillingness to see or admit to the whole picture.
Gonzales is deluded if he things that some shallow shifts in administration “policy” are going to do anything useful (or even reduce the criticism), or if he thinks that seeking “the harshest penalties possible” against meth cooks will do anything positive. Walters is deluded if he really thinks he can walk and chew gum at the same time. Kleiman is deluded if he thinks that a shift in stated government policy is actually going to make drug prohibition work. Califano is deluded if he belives himself to be a sentient being. Michael O. Leavitt is deluded if he thinks a new media campaign against meth use is going to provoke anything more than laughter (or fear of dentists, given the approach they’ll likely use). Jim Talent is deluded if he thinks that cold-sufferers suffer is going to stop meth.
Blind men all.

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