Sullum on Obama: "Bummer, Just Another Drug Warrior"

Jacob Sullum has the October cover story at Reason on President Obama: Bummer: Barack Obama Turns Out to Be Just Another Drug Warrior." As if anyone should be surprised.

I'm not. I've been writing since 2007 that he would do little to temper the War on Drugs. I would have called the article "Bummer: Barack Obama is Still A Drug Warrior." Why?

  • Obama's 2011 Southwest Border Drug Policy Released
  • Obama Plans to Extend Meridia Initiative in Drug War Fight
  • Obama to Ramp Up Drug War in Afghanistan
  • Obama Withdraws Support for Marijuana Decriminalization
  • Obama's 2011 Drug Policy Unveiled: Hype v. Reality
  • Obama's Drug Control Budget
  • Obama Wavers on Crack Sentencing
  • [More....]

  • Obama Says No to Taxing and Legalizing Marijauna
  • Obama and Defendant's Rights: Progressive or Not?
  • Obama Wants to Strengthen Drug War in New Orleans
  • Obama and Medical Pot: More Research is Needed
  • Dems Debate Sentencing Reforms and Mandatory Minimums
  • Comparing Hillary and Obama on Crime Issues
  • Obama, before he was President, expressed opposition to mandatory minimums. Then he changed to calling for a review. And maybe some changes for first-time offenders. But, he said, he's not inclined to spend much "political capital" on the issue.

    Obama was a prime supporter of a meth bill that passed Congress. While in the Illinois legislature, he either voted for or present (I can't tell which) on a law with increased penalties and mandatory minimums for ecstasy in Illinois. (Copley News Service May 10, 2001.)In his own words, (Chicago Tribune, October 8, 2004):

    "I voted for, or co-sponsored myself, over 100 bills that strengthened criminal penalties for everything ranging from sex offenders to drug dealers to domestic violence abusers," he said. "It would be very hard to argue, if you look at the totality of my record, that I somehow have been soft on crime. ... Those who have tried to paint me recently as being too liberal are some of the colleagues I worked most closely with. They never held that view until election season."

    Last week I summed up when writing about another issue:

    He promised to equalize the crack-powder cocaine ratios for sentencing. He settled for 18:1 from 100:1. Can't he ever put his foot down and stick to his guns? He's continued many of George Bush's invasive electronic monitoring and wiretapping programs. He's backtracked in his candidate promise that there would be no federal raids on medical marijuana. He's ramped up the war on drugs allowing the DEA to become a global police force working with the military in countries like Africa making busts where drugs were never intended to reach this country. He's done nothing to lean on Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders -- even first time, non-violent offenders. He's failed to appoint judges in districts in dire need of more judges. As for U.S. Attorneys, he's managed to appoint a Republican in each of the four districts in Texas. The job is a political plum. surely there were qualified Democrats seeking to be appointed.

    It's fine to be disappointed in Obama's lack of reform on our draconian, expensive, ill-advised drug laws. I sure am. But I didn't expect much from him in this department. The writing was always on the wall that he was just another drug warrior who was going to stay a drug warrior.

    And I haven't even gotten to the hypocrisy of his Justice Department's double-speak memoranda on medical marijuana raids. He did promise to end the raids while campaigning, yet despite vague memos to the contrary, they continue, with no end in sight.

    Does this mean we abandon Obama in 2012 over this issue alone? No. Any Republican would be worse. But he needs to learn to be honest. He's pulled the wool over too many eyes on this topic.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The truth about who Obama is can (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Anne on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 08:12:28 AM EST
    be found in his actions, not in his words; by now, it should be clear that his habit of loudly saying one thing and quietly doing just the opposite - on issue after issue after issue - is a feature, not a bug.

    When you look at the totality of the issues on which Obama has failed to live up to his 2008 campaign positions, and realize that those positions were abandoned without Obama expending much effort to pay even lip service to them, it becomes harder and harder to find any reason to cast a vote for him, other than what has increasingly become the fallback position: the other guy is worse.

    Honestly, Jeralyn, if all you did was look at the policies, and not the party affiliation associated with their origin and implementation, I'm pretty sure you would think these were coming from Republicans, not Democrats.

    Both parties are taking us to the same place, the only difference is that the "adult in the room" is observing the speed limits.

    The "adult in the room" (none / 0) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:05:23 AM EST
    is observing the speed limits while driving the get away car.

    Then you have not been paying attention (none / 0) (#9)
    by Rojas on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 10:29:55 AM EST
    "I'm pretty sure you would think these were coming from Republicans, not Democrats."
    Not in my lifetime. The civil rights dems were becoming an endangered species by the mid 80s. Those that were left (no pun intended) were routed by the DLC

    Empty Suit (none / 0) (#4)
    by koshembos on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:02:00 AM EST
    The flash light search for items Obama did do right is a waste of time. The guy doesn't really exists as a human with values. stands, loves, dislikes. All he wants is glory.

    I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:05:28 AM EST
    He does have values, stands, likes and dislikes. They just aren't the same as mine.

    Yep (none / 0) (#7)
    by sj on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:13:15 AM EST
    Or should that be "nope".  He has values and they aren't in line with mine either.  And I'm sticking to my values, stands, likes and dislikes.  A little compromise I'm fine with.  Throwing it all overboard not so much.

    we all have values. (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 07:56:24 PM EST
    mine just don't happen to be gambino family values. obama (and every other politician, save a very, very few) isn't going to risk the economic loss involved by legalizing any drugs. there is a multi-billion dollar industry that's grown up around nixon's "war on drugs" that, like any good drug cartel, isn't going to give that cash up without a nasty fight. from the DEA to your local poltroon sheriff, there's money in them thar drugs! now that we have privatized jails, the corporations have an interest as well, with shareholders to answer to. don't expect them to give that money back.

    it's all about the money trail, and always has been. from harry anslinger to the present.


    I'm done with Brand D for good... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:31:42 AM EST
    because of this very issue, and the foreign policy issues, and the greater incarceration issue, sh*t hard to find an issue the party doesn't have arse-backwards or where they aren't corrupt to the core.