Just as we are being treated to the right wing loonies declaring constantly that a second Obama term would reveal the real Obama — ushering in a fascist dystopia, of course — so too are some liberals engaging in fantasies of how the real progressive Obama would emerge once he’s reelected. Lawrence O’Donnell even thinks that Obama might legalize drugs if he wins in November.
O’Donnell played a clip of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the weekend’s Summit of the Americas saying how Colombia has suffered most in the war against drug trafficking. O’Donnell returned and said that he believed Columbia wants America to decriminalize marijuana and cocaine. He then played president Obama’s response, in which he seemed to agree with President Santos.
“The war on drugs has been an utter failure,” said Obama. “I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws. But I’m not somebody—but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars, and I think that currently we are not doing a good job.”
But upon returning to his segment, O’Donnell admitted he had tricked his audience – that was a clip of Senator Obama in January, 2004. At this weekend’s summit, Obama said that he believes, as he said in 2004, “legalization is not the answer.” He made no mention of decriminalization of marijuana or cocaine consumption.
Finally, O’Donnell said he believes that Obama is likely to embrace laxer drug laws in his second term. “Although, president Obama thinks it’s entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether our drug laws are doing more harm than good, he has absolutely no intention of having that discussion in the United States until after he is reelected to a second term,” said O’Donnell. “With exactly 204 days remaining until the election, makes possibly ending the war on drugs the 204th reason to vote for President Obama on November 6th.”
I want to know what Lawrence O’Donnell is smoking.
It must be something really good, because he is absolutely delusional to think that President Obama would end the War on Drugs if granted a second term.
Why? Because the president’s track record proves otherwise.
In 2008, candidate Obama said, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on [medical marijuana].” He rightfully bemoaned America’s high drug incarceration rate (which disproportionately harms blacks), and advocated a “public health” approach to drugs, which emphasizes treatment over imprisonment…
But since taking office, he has repeatedly broken all his other promises on the drug war. If anything, the administration has been more aggressive than President Bush in ramping up the war on medical marijuana dispensaries. Since 2009, legal pot sellers in California, Colorado, Montana, and Washington have been threatened by the DOJ, audited by the IRS, and shut down by the DEA.
And earlier this year, the Obama DOJ made its priorities clear, issuing a warning that “the department of Justice has the authority to enforce federal law even when such activities may be permitted under state law. Persons … who operate or facilitate the operation of such dispensaries are subject to criminal prosecution…” The threats have effectively prevented states like Delaware from moving forward with licensing dispensaries under newly-passed state laws…
I would really love for O’Donnell to be right on this. And I will happily eat crow if Obama gets re-elected and magically turns back 40 years of bad policy. But, sorry, it’s just not going to happen.
Of course it isn’t. Even if Obama was 100% behind the idea, it isn’t going to happen. O’Donnell is one of the few people in the media with real experience working on Capitol Hill; I’d love to hear him explain how they get to a majority for any policy that even begins to diminish the war on drugs, much less anything that smacks of legalization. He’s living in a fantasy world.