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January 2008
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Presidential campaign musical chairs

Dennis Kucinich is dropping out of the Presidential race tomorrow to focus on his House race. It’s a shame not to have his drug policy reform views in the race, but quite frankly, we didn’t really have them much when he was running. He never developed any traction or real notice (except in comparison to invisible man Mike Gravel).
I’ve also been extremely disappointed with Kucinich in the House. We were so excited when he was named Chair of the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy — the subcommittee that was supposed to include the drug policy areas formerly overseen by Mark Souder when the Republicans controlled the House. But he tamely followed the leadership’s mandate and almost completely ignored drug policy. Just look at the hearings since he took over. The only advantage to having Kucinich is that he’s not Souder. And yes, the absence of Souder is devoutly to be wished, but still, it would be nice for a reformer to actually, you know, reform.
Actor Fred Thompson has also mercifully dropped out — he was wildly miscast in his role as Presidential candidate. Nobody believed his character, and he couldn’t seem to memorize his lines. I’ve got to admit that I’m glad not to have a candidate who got his views on drug policy from Law and Order.
The best chance of drug policy reform actually being discussed in the Presidential campaign continues to be Ron Paul (who Monday received the endorsement of drug policy reformer and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson). He’s got the money and the ground troops, but not the press or the voting numbers. The fact that he’s got a reasonable amount of cash on hand means that he may have some time yet to get out the message.
Of course, there is another chance that drug policy will be discussed in the campaign — and that’s if Obama is the Democratic candidate. In that case, his youthful drug use is likely to become an attack issue and it could get ugly. Then it will be interesting to see how the public responds. Will they continue to reward “soft-on-drugs” attacks?
Again, this is mostly just interesting conjecture. While I dream of reform-minded Presidents, I know that the best we can really hope for is one that will make increasing the drug war a low priority. Leadership will come from the people, not the leaders.

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