The Past Life of a Republican U.S. Senator

The picture above is of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)in 1969 when he was a student at Hofstra University. From his Wikipedia entry:

"He ran for student senate and opined in the school newspaper that his fellow students should vote for him because he knew that 'these conservative kids don't f*ck or get high like we do...

Fast forward to the present, and Sen. Coleman opposes the legalization of marijuana. In a recent form letter his office sent out he wrote:

"I oppose the legalization of marijuana because, as noted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, marijuana can have serious adverse health affects on individuals. The health problems that may occur from this highly addictive drug include short-term memory loss, anxiety, respiratory illness and a risk of lung cancer that far exceeds that of tobacco products. It would also make our transportation, schools and workplaces, just as examples, more dangerous."

Lawyer Norm Kent went to college with Coleman and now serves on the NORML Board of Directors. He fired off this response to Coleman, which is just great reading. While I will highlight below, I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The letter begins with a little reminiscing:

Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope.

Sure, we had to tape the doors shut, burn incense and open the windows, but we got high, and yet we grew up okay, without the help of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's advice.

Kent notes the number of their classmates who went on to become doctors, lawyers and other professionals. He reminds Coleman of the time:

We smoked pot when we took over Weller Hall to protest administrative abuses of students' rights. You smoked pot as you stood on the roof of the University Senate protesting faculty exclusivity. As the President of the Student Senate in 1969, you condemned the raid by Nassau County police on our dormitories, busting scores of students for pot possession.

Kent goes on to discuss the irrationality of Coleman's current position. One of my favorite lines:

We have seen more people die last year from spinach then pot.

He goes on to chastise Coleman for being hypocritical and urges him to come out of the closet:

How about you looking back at your past and saying: "What I did was not so wrong and not so bad and not so hurtful that generations of Americans should still, decades later, be going to jail for smoking pot - nearly one million arrests for possession last year."

Can't Norm Coleman come out of the closet in 2007 and say "These arrests are wrong - that there is a better way, and we need to find it."

You might find more integrity and honor in that then adopting the sad and sorry policy of our Office of National Drug Control Policy. You might find the person you were.

As I said, a great letter. If you are a constituent of Sen. Coleman's, how about writing him and letting him know you agree with Norm Kent.

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    Maybe... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 01:22:28 PM EST
    this cat Coleman was just a born politician.

    Pandering then to the student body of Hofstra, pretending to be one of them, getting high and raising hell. Pandering now to the voters of Minnesota with drug war rhetoric.

    A born politician....standing for and believeing in winning elections, nothing else.

    RE: (none / 0) (#2)
    by mack on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 01:24:49 PM EST
    You most likely have hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    Oh, he's pretty good all right (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peaches on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 02:04:16 PM EST
    His voting record was one of the most conservative in the senate when he first began office. But, he pays attention to trends.

    He immediately said he heard the message loud and clear in 06 which wasn't an election year for him and began taking more positions that were not in favor of Bush such as the no-confidence in AG and not favoring a surge in Iraq. His poll numbers are pretty good in MN and I doubt we will have a democrat who can beat him, though Al Franken may make a valiant attempt.

    His whole career has been a series of switches depending on the way the political wind blows. He's slick and slippery, but very shallow.

    He was also a roadie for the Band Ten Years After in the 1970's.

    His position on Marijuana is a political one and not a personal one.


    I'd still rather vote for Norm Peterson (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 01:44:19 PM EST
    He's the Norm from "Cheers".

    Before Lunch, enter Norm.

    N: Gimme a beer, Sammy.
    S: Little early in the morning, isn't it Norm?
    N: Float a corn flake in it.

    Norm plops his ass on his barstool, awaiting his breakfast beer.

    Seriously though, it never ceases to amaze how far a person's being can sweep in much less than a lifetime.  Less than twenty years did it for this dude, most likely.  

    I miss "Cheers".

    So.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by jarober on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 04:14:11 PM EST
    Does that mean that David Brock needs to "come clean" and stop pretending to be a liberal?  Come on, TL - people change their minds, in all kinds of directions, and on any number of topics.

    Are you trying to enforce some kind of "liberal apostasy" here?

    opposites (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 04:23:05 PM EST
    david brock found the light, this a-hole found the dark side:"The health problems that may occur from this highly addictive drug"

    He knows better that that, he's just pandering.


    Why can't he allow other people (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 06:22:17 PM EST
    to be able to change their minds too.  Why can't other people get stoned all college long and then reach full maturity and become Norm Coleman?  He doesn't seem to be very fair about all this.

    The lung cancer mention is a LIE. (none / 0) (#7)
    by lilybart on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 04:44:53 PM EST
    In fact, recent studies show just the opposite. There is a protectant effect in the cannibis. It might even kill off damaged cells that then cannot grow into a cancer.

    They cannot defend marijuana prohibition without lies.

    But, "wreaks havoc" on (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 12:08:51 AM EST
    bronchial tissue.

    P.S.  This photo is not the best advertisement for pot smoking.


    the past and today (none / 0) (#9)
    by diogenes on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 06:43:22 PM EST
    Come off it, Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater Girl once.    

    She never said that it should be (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jun 30, 2007 at 08:03:44 AM EST
    illegal to be a Goldwater Girl though.

    The emptiest vessel on Earth (none / 0) (#11)
    by chemoelectric on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 12:40:16 AM EST
    Norm Coleman is the emptiest vessel on Earth, and a perfect weathervane at the same time--which fortunately means he knows which way the wind blows. He can be affected if there is enough impetus.

    Drug Use (none / 0) (#12)
    by D Lonewolf on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 02:22:43 PM EST
    Its easy to call people empty.  The truth is growing up in the 60's many of us used pot and other drugs.  When i was in the Navy during Nam, it was a common thing.  But after I went home to E. LA I saw personally the damage recreational drug use caused my family.  So I grew up, got a job and did something with my life.  I suspect Norm has come to his decision to support the laws as written because of the broken families he saw as Mayor of Saint Paul.  Whole neighborhoods subject to gang violence and drug use...hand in hand.

    BS (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 02:37:49 PM EST
    MJ does not lead to gang violence or broken families. Nor is it highly addictive and cancer causing (more than tobacco)  as Colman announced. Those are outright lies.

    As far as your personal decision goes to not smoke weed, no one has a problem with that. And as far as other drugs and alchol go, it is not the subject of this thread.

    It is quite empty when you make things up, that you know are untrue, just to pander and to get the vote.


    Google: Homicides, including (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 03:02:56 PM EST
    vehicular, assualts, child abuse etc etc alchohol related vs marijauna related. Absolutely no contest.

    But, the liquor company employ those apostles of trickle-down-truth through whom all things are possible: lobbyists. Plus, booze goes better with God, Guns and Guts (if not ours, then somebody elses) than marijauna does.


    Actually, (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peaches on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 03:09:57 PM EST
    on occcasion (Hey, I'm no stoner I just like to relax once in a while)I kind of enjoy having a little puff off of the pinchy while basking in the Sun and enjoying one or two (I'm no boozer either) nice cold microbrew (A Surley Furious in my neck of the woods).

    Sorry to hear about your.... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 03:46:03 PM EST
    past family troubles, but I find recreational reefer use has helped keep my family together.  The clan gets together for a bbq, passes around a couple spliffs and we smile, laugh, and bond as a family. Tis a beautiful thing...a beautiful criminal thing.  

    Alcohol on the other hand...that drug caused problems for my family.  But I don't blame the alcohol, I blame the alcoholic and the disease of alcoholism.  Prohibiting alcohol use would not have helped my family at all, imo.


    He's right you know... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 05:07:21 PM EST
    The weed must be evil if it turned him into what he is today.

    cool (none / 0) (#19)
    by TCKelly on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 08:42:35 AM EST
    so we got a sleeper on the hill? I like that. shows we can work with him.