Drug Policy

Obama Appoints a Drug Czar and Kicks Him Out of the Cabinet

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Today the White House is expected to name Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator sponsored the legislation that created the office, will make the announcement. Last month I noted a few reasons for cautious optimism about Kerlikowske as head of the ONDCP, perhaps best summed up by Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, who said, "He's likely to be the best drug czar we've seen, but that's not saying much." Here's another mildly positive sign: A.P. reports "the agency will no longer have Cabinet-level status."

[Thanks to Tom Angell for the tip.]

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  1. Well, it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Well well well, isn’t that interesting?

    Once we loose another couple million jobs, we might even hear whispers about legalizing pot.

  3. Good for him.

  4. What’s the practical or legal difference to a position being cabinet-level? Is it just about sitting in on cabinet meetings, getting more “face time”, etc.?

  5. It’d be cool if joe came back. I think this is a net win for Liberaltarians!?!?!

  6. the cabinet shift is good news.

  7. “It’d be cool if joe came back. I think this is a net win for Liberaltarians!?!?!”

    STFU

  8. what did happen to Joe?

  9. troy–

    He bailed because he didn’t feel like defending Obama.

  10. Why is this good?

    The way I see it, a cynic might say that by lowering the status of the drug czar from out of the cabinet; that means Joe Biden is left making all the important decisions on drug policy (since he has soooo much experience being a major fucking prick in the war on drugs) and that the new drug czar will be more of a functionary of the vice president.

    How can this be seen good? Yes, it makes one less monkey in the cabinet circus; but I would rather have the appointed drug czar there than Biden.

    From the AP article:
    “The administration official said that Biden was making the announcement given the “breadth of knowledge” he (Biden) has on U.S. drug policy.

    “The vice president will work closely with the director-designate to oversee both the international and domestic anti-drug efforts,” the official said.

    The agency will no longer have Cabinet-level status, but the official said that Kerlikowske “will have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made … and full access and a direct line to the president and vice president.”

    I see this has Obama politically making a choice that progressives could support; and then nuetering him so Biden’s dumb ass can really be in charge. This news sucks!!

  11. I think this is a net win for Liberaltarians!?!?!

    Remains to be seen. Around these parts, we don’t count press releases as substantive wins. Note, as LoopFiasco does, that Obama simultaneously made a not-terrible pick for the position, and demoted the position.

    The liberaltarians did get a win with the bar on medical marijuana raids in the budget bill (I think; haven’t seen any detail yet).* As far as I can tell, that’s about it so far.

    *Of course, the budget as a whole is a giant buttfucking for liberaltarians.

  12. But ONDCP has always been a paper tiger, detested by the agencies the “czar” is supposed to ombud over.

  13. FrBunny | March 11, 2009, 12:50pm | #
    What’s the practical or legal difference to a position being cabinet-level? Is it just about sitting in on cabinet meetings, getting more “face time”, etc.?

    I was rather surprised to find out it was considered a cabinet-level position in the first place. Much like I was surprised when Obama appointed someone to be International Trade Representative and it was a “cabinet-level position.”

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