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, 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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