Obama Has Three Big Priorities This Term, and Ending the Drug War Isn't One of Them

Contrary to an unsourced report published before the election, President Obama won't be "tackling" the drug war in his second term. Instead, reports Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo, Obama's big fights will be over guns, immigration, and climate change: 

It may not be what Democrats expected to be the White House’s plan in November, but President Obama has repeatedly identified each of these areas as critical parts of his agenda since winning re-election. In addition to his upcoming skirmishes with Republican lawmakers over taxes and entitlements, Obama’s second term could end up being defined by his success or failures on these three domestic policy fronts. 

This is another great opportunity to revisit Marc Ambinder's unsourced report from July 2012, in which the GQ correspondent claimed that "if the president wins a second term, he plans to tackle another American war that has so far been successful only in perpetuating more misery: the four decades of The Drug War." That claim was followed by a report from The Huffington Post, in which another unnamed White House official said a second-term Obama would attempt to reinstate federal financial aid for Americans convicted of drug offenses. 

At this point--with the Obama administration reportedly torn between suing Colorado and Washington, and raiding them into submission--it looks like Ambinder got spun. 

Even if Obama does do something with the drug war—say, expands the federal drug court pilot program from three jurisdications to nationwide, or allows convicted drug offenders to borrow federally guaranteed funds for college—that's not the same as "tackling" the drug war. Not when you consider how complex Obamacare is, and the thousands of hours that went into crafting and debating and negotiating that legislation. Anything short of a major overhaul of the Controlled Substances Act, asset forfeiture policies, and our massive prison system simply doesn't count as a tackle. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    No surprise: it's because republicans won't let him. They'll paint him as being "soft on crime" and then the dems will lose the next election and we'll live with one-party tyranny forever.

  • Hugh Akston||

    If only those mean ol' Rethuglicans weren't holding him hostage, Obama would be able to take a closer look at the War on Drugs (wink), especially rethinking priorities on marijuana enforcement (wink wink).

    It's amazing how Team Red can somehow rule the entire country from the lower house of the legislature.

  • rts||

    Looking at that picture, am I the only one who doesn't like foregrips on rifles?

  • Jeff||


  • Brandon||

    "Got spun" implies that Ambinder didn't know he was lying through his teeth. I'm not sure I believe that.

  • R C Dean||

    Obama's big fights will be over guns, immigration, and climate change:

    I see two (almost) sure losers in that list, maybe all three.

    Assuming, of course, that the Repubs don't just roll over and play dead. Which, after the passage of the pork-laden hurricane bailout bill with no pay-fors or spending cuts, I am not betting against.

  • ||

    Obama's big fights will--like always--result in disappointment for his supporters while they continue to worship and defend him. Because they're idiots, and he's figured out how to con them continuously. Basically, he's realized that he needs to always keep them wanting him to "do" stuff, so if he actually gets anything "done", that's less stuff that they constantly want him to do. So nothing can actually get "done", or he'd have less stuff to dangle over their heads.

    In a way, he's a total sadist to them, and that's pretty great, because no one deserves it more than them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He's really setting up the waiting Marius for an easy takeover.

  • Drake||

    Guns. Immigration. Climate Change.

    Notice he didn't mention any of this shit during the campaign?

  • Jeff||

    I don't recall him talking about anything other than the war on vaginers.

  • Liberty||

    Romney didnt help in that regard with his pathetic hispandering. What do you think would be easier for the GOP, raising its white share from 59% to 63% or its hispanic share from 27% to 57%?

  • iggy||

    Well, considering that Bush won 40 percent of the hispanic vote, I figure that should be enough to win most elections. You can't win 24% of the hispanic vote and win, but they don't need a majority.

  • LarryA||

    Notice he didn't mention any of this shit during the campaign?

    Well, except for his constantly-repeated assurance that He Respected the Second Amendment and Would Never Take Our Guns.

  • Liberty||

    When will we learn that the liberals dint want to end the drug war? Theyre just pissed of f that so many brown people are in prison. Lets give them loans, thats the only thing keeping them from taking their natural place as financial managers! But they will never tolerate giving up such great government power.

  • Jeff||

    Shut the fuck up.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm curious Slappy, why don't you link to the American Third Reich site in your name anymore?

  • Liberty||

    Shut up.

  • iggy||

    Don't you guys know that the socialism gene is directly related to melanin content? You see, as melanin increases in the human body, socialism also grows, like a festering wound.

    We should be applauding Liberty for pointing this out, and explaining how the darkies can never be our equals.

  • Liberty||

    socialism gene?

  • ||

    Also our President will be needing to start a new war in Mali.
    He has a lot of big fish to fry.

  • johnl||

    Not just Mali. The whole continent.

  • NeonCat||

    If we make Kenya our 51st state, it won't matter if Obama was born there or not.

  • T||

    Fried fish causes obesity, so he's got bigger fish to grill.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Obama's big fights will be over guns, immigration, and climate change

    Two out of three are complete bullshit. Does that mean he's improving?

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Gun violence is down in America, immigration is net negative due to an awful economy, and climate change is a whirlwind of misinformation and bullshit that has no clear solution.

    Why should he have any of these as priorities?

  • LarryA||

    Because it's easier than all that budget stuff.

  • sohbet||

    super blogs thanks admins
    sohbet odaları

  • kombi servisi||

    If you live in a state where Marijuana isn't legal yet and still want the same type of highs,klima servisi I suggest checking out uIntoxicate.com. It has amazingly detailed legal highs reviews and where to get them without getting ripped off!
    Also! I'm starting up arçelik klima servisi a new forum dedicated to my fellows stoners. Come on over and join the high conversations! We're quite new, but VERY welcoming.

  • kombi servisi||

    I think it's time vestel klima servisi we start legalizing Marijuana everywhere. Stop living in demirdöküm kombi servisi fear and start thinking about how great the future will be! LEGALIZE IT!

  • kombi servisi||

    and in regards to legalized MJ, vaillant kombi servisi i am seeing little to no negative comments amongst the cops. mostly support, and a few people are like "i think this is vaillant kombi servisi a dumb decision, but whatever. i've got better things to do with my time than MJ enforcement".

  • kombi servisi||

    exactly. there will be a point kombi servisi of critical mass, and that will prompt the feds. they will be on the losing side of history FOR A WHILE. beylikdüzü kombi servisi
    it always happens that way. but eventually, the rescheduling will commence. in some way that allows them to think they are saving face.

  • kombi servisi||

    Also! I'm starting up kadıköy kombi servisi
    a new forum dedicated to my fellows stoners. Come on webmaster forumları
    over and join the high conversations! We're quite new, but VERY welcoming.

  • cinsel chat||

    earned that one "Sharon Levy" cares more for boot licking than the Hip sohbet odaları & cinsel sohbet

  • klima servisi||

    Looking at that picture, am I the only one who doesn't like foregrips on rifles?


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.