Walters vs. Nadelmann

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In the latest issue of National Review, drug czar John P. Walters is reduced to angry incoherence as he responds to the argument for marijuana legalization that the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann made in the July 12 issue of the magazine. NR gave Nadelmann space to rebut Walters' response (which he does ably), but it almost wasn't necessary, given how appallingly bad Walters is at making the case for prohibition.

In the opening paragraph, Walters asserts that Nadelmann's "version of marijuana legalization…fronts for a worldwide political movement, funded by billionaire George Soros, to embed the use of all drugs as acceptable policy." There's almost nothing about that sentence that makes sense. What does it mean for a "version of marijuana legalization" to "front" for a political movement? How does one "embed the use of all drugs as acceptable policy"?

The one thing that's clear is that Walters assumes, given National Review's audience, that he can use the bogeyman of Soros the Liberal Billionaire to discredit Nadelmann's argument. He mentions Soros twice more, to no logical effect but with obvious prejudicial intent.

Walters really heats up toward the end, where he lets loose this rant:

Make no mistake about what is going on here: Drug legalization is a worldwide movement, the goal of which is to make drug consumption–including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine–an acceptable practice. Using the discourse of rights without resonsibilities, the effort strives to establish an entitlement to addictive substances. The impact will be devastating.

Drug legalizers will not be satisfied with a limited distribution of medical marijuana, nor will they stop at legal marijuana for sale in convenience stores. Their goal is clearly identifiable: tolerated addiction. It is a travesty to suggest, as Ethan Nadelmann has done, that it is consistent with conservative principles to abandon those who could be treated for their addiction, to create a situation in which government both condones and is the agent of drug distribution, and to place in the hands of the state the power to grant or not grant access to an addictive substance. This is not a conservative vision. But it is the goal of George Soros.

Rather than debate what Nadelmann actually said, Walters chooses to attack an imaginary position that he attributes to George Soros, without presenting any evidence that either Soros or Nadelmann believes in "rights without responsibilities" or an "entitlement to addictive substances." Walters gets one thing right, however: It "is not a conservative vision"–at least insofar as American conservatism reflects classical liberal principles of limited government–"to place in the hands of the state the power to grant or not grant access to an addictive substance." But isn't that the policy Walters is supposed to be defending?

NEXT: Beating Around the Bushes

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  1. Guess you could say I loved Soros before I hated him. On drug prohibition, he has long rocked.

    National Review has a pretty solid history of talking sensibly about drug policy. It should not be assumed that all of the crew over there will be enthralled by Walters’ rantings.

    –Mona–

  2. it is a hell of a leap to make. perhaps he was drunk or keyed up on sudafed when he wrote it?

    then again, he is a “czar” so perhaps leaping is what he should stick to doing.

  3. It is a travesty to suggest, as Ethan Nadelmann has done, that it is consistent with conservative principles to abandon those who could be treated for their addiction . . .

    The conservative position of late — and, to be fair, the centrist Democrat position too — has been to throw them in jail.

    . . . to create a situation in which government both condones and is the agent of drug distribution . . .

    Like state liquor stores?

    . . . and to place in the hands of the state the power to grant or not grant access to an addictive substance . . .

    Like state liquor stores?

    Meanwhile, I’m looking through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and other Amendments for the parts about “responsibilities,” and damned if I’m not finding them.

  4. Their goal is clearly identifiable: tolerated addiction.

    Ahem, I prefer to call it personal responsibility. And yes, that is my goal.

  5. Their goal is clearly identifiable: tolerated addiction.

    And if its no skin off your nose, why shouldn’t you tolerate my addiction?

  6. I’ve always liked the title “czar,” given that one synonym of “czar,” is “despot”…

  7. For a complete list of our “responsibilities” as per the Constitution, see amendments IX and X.

  8. I can’t read Derb; he makes me nuts. But then, I’m one of those who thinks gay citizens who pay taxes just like I do should be equal before the law. They are also entitled to all the same state-confered benefits we straights enjoy, like marriage benefits.

    However, I like VDH on foreign policy (guess that makes me a JOOOO-loving Neo-Con), and have usually been pleased with NR’s approach to drug policy. Hey, they are out-right conservatives, and not (most of them) libertarians. But they are also not all statist loons.

    –Mona–

  9. The drug czar sputtering in incoherence when asked to rationally justify prohibition?

    Who’d a thunk it?

  10. Our czar must have been sleeping during the college lecture on alcohol prohibition. For a refresher he needs to review the article here:
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-157.html

    I suppose that he is justifying his position based on the empirical success of the “program” over the past 30 years. How about this, what if we could positively identify ALL users of illicit (including illegal Rx) drugs today? What would we do with them? What about the officials in the government (all three branches)? There are members of society that are daily users of pot and you’d never guess that they were, even if you’d known them for decades. I know members of society that have used pot daily for decades and they are contributing positively to society. Many of them are very successful both professionally and personally. These “chronics” are distributed throughout our society without any apparent adverse repercussions to society.

    At any rate, marijuana needs to be treated for what it is – a benign weed capable of producing feelings of insight, euphoria, pain relief, comradery (sp), hunger and just plain fun in its users.

    If JW, JA and dubya would just spark ONE phatty with us they would be awakened too. Imagine the possibilities…priceless.

    Peace. Out.

  11. Ethan kicked Walter’s ass long ago. Walters is so think he’s just now feeling it.

    Walters is a tool.

  12. Ethan kicked Walter’s ass long ago. Walters is so thick he’s just now feeling it.

    Walters is a tool.

  13. Ethan kicked Walter’s ass long ago. Walters is so thick he’s just now feeling it.

    Walters is a tool.

  14. Blah, blah, blah goes the czar. The real issue is what are we, the reformers, doing about our situation? 30+ years now and no change in the laws. More punative laws than ever, more money spent than ever, more folks incarcerated than ever and on and on it goes. Everyone in reform needs to talk with their families, friend, and co-workers to expose the beast that the War on Drugs is. Prohibition is truly an indefensible position. Let’s work each and every day to end it. Don’t sit passively by and complain or worse remain silent. There are plenty of ways to help without “coming out”. Do something. Just do it.
    Get educated. Get active. Know Truth.

  15. Buy one of the “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes” stickers at the above site, and annoy the bible-thumpers with it by sticking it somewhere prominent. Those stickers speak for themselves…

    Not-Daniel Carver.

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