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November 2007
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Obama did drugs?

Old news rears its head (and probably will several times more in this election cycle). I’ve talked for years about Obama’s admission to using drugs when he was a teen. The big issue for me is that he has talked about using drugs as a youth and was able to become a success, and yet he brags about passing laws to imprison and deny opportunities to other youths who make the same “mistake.”
Well, in a talk with high schoolers on Tuesday, Obama mentioned his youthful indiscretions:

“You know, I made some bad decisions that I’ve actually written about. You know, got into drinking. I experimented with drugs,” he said. “There was a whole stretch of time that I didn’t really apply myself a lot. It wasn’t until I got out of high school and went to college that I started realizing, ‘Man, I wasted a lot of time.’”

Well naturally, this has become the big deal again, and has become the talk in all the media and among other people who consider themselves important:
Giuliani

‹I respect his honesty in doing that. One of the things we need from our people running for office is not this pretense of perfection. The reality is all of us that run for public office…we‰re all human beings. If we haven‰t made mistakes, don‰t vote for us, ‰cause we‰ve got some big ones that are going to happen in the future.Š

Romney:

“It’s just not a good idea for people running for President of the United States who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people to talk about their personal failings while they were kids because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, ‘well I can do that too and become President of the United States,’” Romney told an Iowa audience today. “I think that was a huge error by Barack Obama…it is just the wrong way for people who want to be the leader of the free world.”

Fox and Friends

Fox and Friends kept up the jokes and laughing in the next segment. Gretchen Carlson said speaking of drinking a presidential candidate was talking about drinking and a little drug use, and said we’re talking about Barack Obama. Gretchen also said he said he was a junky pothead and that’s where he was headed. […]
They then had the right wing radio host, Mancow on who said he used to smoke it up all the time with Barack Obama, he said Obama was hilarious. And the Fox and Friends crew just laughed and laughed as Mancow made fun of smoking pot. Mancow also told the Fox and Friends crew that he loved the idea that they were talking about a man who got high and wanted to become president when they had Ron Paul, who was high right now. More laughter ensued.

Calvina Fay:

“A person in his position has an obligation to be very clear about the seriousness and illegality and potentially deadly results of using drugs,” said Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation.
She said the two most effective weapons against teen addiction are emphasizing the harm drugs can cause and stressing societal disapproval of using them.
“He basically violated both of those,” Fay said.
She said Obama’s telling kids he did drugs and came out okay might also lull parents into being less alarmed about their kids’ dabbling with banned substances.
“His outcome was very different from what we normally see. Most kids that use drugs don’t become presidential candidates,” Fay said. [emphasis added]

Yes, that’s true. And most kids who use marijuana don’t become heroin addicts either. Also, most kids that drink milk don’t become presidential candidates. Most kids that breathe air don’t become presidential candidates.
OK, so what do we have available to us? The media, ever ready to pounce on drug stories for a laugh, plus It-was-youthful-indiscretion-for-me,-but-I’m-locking-you-up hypocrites (Obama, Giuliani), and pro-ignorance moralists (Romney, Fay). Great choices.
What I’d like to see: “I used drugs as a teenager, and I was lucky. I didn’t get arrested and have my future ruined. I didn’t get drawn into the criminal networks that control the drug trade. And I didn’t run into problems with abusing drugs. If I’m elected President, I’ll see that young people get the education they need to make good choices, do my best to insure that a bad choice won’t ruin their lives, and stop ceding control of drugs to the black market.
Update: Froma Harrop has a great take on this.

Open Thread

“bullet” At Grits for Breakfast: Texas’ Worst Court: Cops can hand out dope to create snitches. Also see his update.
“bullet” I’ve been hesitant to write much on the jet that crashed full of cocaine and whether it was tied to the U.S. government. It’s all so murky and hard to sort through. But that’s the kind of sifting that Bill Conroy does, and he has some of the speculation here.
“bullet” Mark Souder is a real head case (but then we knew that). Scott Morgan has the recent details.
“bullet” Jacob Sullum’s article The Addict’s Veto is not just about gambling.
“bullet” Robert J. Caldwell strikes again in an ignorant piece about Plan Mexico the Merida Initiative: Drug War Allies

Critics, mainly the left in Mexico and assorted liberals in this country, are labeling the Merida Initiative “Plan Mexico.” That’s intended as an unflattering reference to Washington’s long-standing program of paramilitary assistance that helps Colombia fight drug trafficking, terrorism and a narco-funded communist insurgency.

He then goes on to say that that’s unfair, Plan Mexico is so not like Plan Colombia, and Plan Colombia worked anyway. Which is both factually incorrect and a bizarre self-defeating argument.
“bullet” For a much better view of Plan Mexico, check out this excellent, detailed and referenced discussion at Chicago Indymedia by Jennifer Truskowski: Public Demand Grows For President Bush To Reveal Details of Plan Mexico
“bullet” Link [Thanks, Allan]

The illegal drugs trade in Britain is worth a staggering £8billion a year and involves 70,000 street dealers, secret Home Office research revealed yesterday.
Major importers stand to earn more than £16,000 every day and run their operations like a business. Some even have a list of salaried employees.
The drug barons have little fear of being caught and view jail as nothing more than an “occupational hazard”, the study reveals.

“bullet” LEAP on the Presidential Trail: NH Cop to McCain: Drug War Blows [Thanks, Allan again]
“bullet” Another must-read by Radley Balko: Casualties of the Corrupt Drug War

Richard Paey interview

He’s out of prison now, pardoned by the Governor, and Radley Balko interviews Richard Paey. A must read.