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:
‹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
“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 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.
“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.