One of the recurring themes I enjoyed on “The West Wing” was the big block of cheese day – an annual event where White House staff would hear concerns and ideas from citizens that normally would not get the government’s ear.
The current White House is resurrecting this notion with a virtual big block of cheese day on Wednesday.
In 1837, President Jackson hosted an open house featuring a 1,400-pound block of cheese. On Wednesday, January 29th, with a nod to history (and maybe the TV show the West Wing), White House officials will take to social media for a day long ‘open house’ to answer questions from everyday Americans.
The difference, obvious in the White House explanation, was that in the big block of cheese day on “The West Wing,” the White House staffers listened. Here, they will “answer questions.” Kind of misses the point.
What’s interesting to me about this is that a few brief years ago, many of us would have seen this as an opportunity to get drug policy reform “heard” by the government. No longer. Drug policy is clearly no longer the silent topic that nobody will discuss. These days, it’s hard to even keep up with all the national discussions on the issue.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we’ll be hearing a lot about it tonight in the State of the Union address. It might happen. If it does, I would guess it would have nothing to do with marijuana legalization or medical marijuana, but rather a brief mention of racial inequalities and/or treatment needs.
Which is at least better than the last SOTU that I remember where drugs were mentioned. In 2004, the President used the SOTU to call for additional money for school drug testing.