Election 2012

Has Obama Really Worked to End the War on Drug Users?

90 Days, 90 Reasons claims Obama "has worked to end the war on drug users."

|

Over at 90 Days, 90 Reasons, The Guardian's Ana Marie Cox writes that Obama "has already done a great deal and has pledged to do more" to end the war on drug users. Cox's list, however, is pretty short: Obama signed legislation reducing the sentencing disparity between powder cocaine and crack and he included funding for addiction treatment in the Affordable Care Act. (Cox also mentions federal funding for "Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment," but federal funding for SBIRT started in 2003, under George W. Bush.)

Meanwhile, Cox's case for what Obama might do in his second term relies entirely on an un-sourced, one-off GQ report published last July by drug policy dilettante Marc Ambinder. Cox interprets that report thusly: "According to GQ correspondent Marc Ambinder, Obama plans to do more in a second term, though what, exactly, is unclear." This is what Ambinder actually wrote: "Don't expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself….The best thing a president can do may be what Obama winds up doing if he gets re-elected: using the bully pulpit to draw attention to the issue."

So what inspires Cox to write that she will "vote for Obama secure in the knowledge that under a second Obama term, life for those suffering because of the drug war will get better"? Well, there's the reduction in sentencing disparity (which was actually 12 years in the making), and the addiction coverage mandated by Obamacare (which doubles as a handout for a rehab industry that's spent millions lobbying Washington).  

And then there's Mitt Romney:

Romney's promise/threat (Preat? Thromise?) to "repeal Obamacare" would undo these advances.

There are other reasons you should be very scared of what Romney might do when it comes to drug policy. Romney has addressed drug policy in the same way he addresses almost every other vital question facing our country—as vaguely as possible. On the record, he has committed to expanding the U.S.'s attempts to stem the tide of illegal drugs across the Mexican border (a stalemate that has cost approximately 65,000 lives thus far) and he opposes any decriminalization of marijuana—otherwise, he has not said much. As with other policy issues, we must look to those close to him for hints at what might be in store. He keeps pretty gruesome company. One of his top fundraisers, Mel Sembler, is the former owner of a chain of "tough love" rehabs now defunct due to allegations of torture, sexual assault, and mental abuse. The chain's organizational structure morphed into the Drug Free America Foundation, now chaired by Sembler's wife, Betty. DFAF campaigns against the decriminalization of any drug use and against harm reduction policies (needle exchange programs and the like). Romney himself is linked, through Bain Capital, to the Aspen Education Group, another "tough love" rehab conglomerate with a history of abuse and fraud.

Funny that Cox would cite Sembler in her case against Romney, considering that one of his companies has received $250,000 in federal funding under Obama. But if it behooves voters to "look to those close to" a candidate for evidence of what he'll do as president, then let's look at DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. Since the Bush holdover was re-appointed to that position by Obama, Leonhart has made it harder for nursing home residents to receive pain medication; testified before Congress that marijuana is no less dangerous than heroin or meth; and defended the bloodshed in Mexico, saying "It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs….[cartels] are like caged animals, attacking one another." Surely political appointees tell us as much as, if not more than, campaign contribution bundlers?

As for Romney's on-the-record commitment "to expanding the U.S.'s attempts to stem the tide of illegal drugs across the Mexican border"–Obama is committed to the same:

"How long are we going to allow Mexicans to be murdered, and now Americans as well?" a member of the Mexican media asked Obama.

Obama said the United States is putting "unprecedented pressure" on the cartels but that more must be done.

"We are trying to work our way through more effective enforcement mechanisms," he said. But "we recognize that it's not enough and we have to do more."

And let's not forget: Obama is also opposed to marijuana decriminalization, as the DOJ reminded us last month.

When Cox called for the disbanding of the White House press corps in 2009, I clapped for suggestions like this one:

Here are some stories that reporters working the White House beat have produced in the past few months: Pocket squares are back! The president is popular in Europe. Vegetable garden! Joe Biden occasionally says things he probably regrets. Puppy!

Instead of heaping more telegenic reporters into a single White House beat, break up the work among the corps of plugged-in journalists. When the president speaks out on AIG, let financial and labor reporters truth-squad him; when North Korea launches a missile, let defense and Asia specialists assess the White House reaction. Let the beleaguered journalism business prove its worth by providing something you can't get by watching the White House's YouTube channel.

And leave the puppy to me.

While I don't think Cox should limit herself to the puppy beat, I think it's safe to say her drug policy chops need work. I also thinks it's safe to say Obama hasn't done much of anything to end the drug war, or the war on drug users.

NEXT: Kentucky Chemical Fire Evacuation Indefinite

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.

  1. Wow is Cox aging badly. She just looks rough these days. Being a hack must really take a toll.

  2. There is very little the president can do by himself.

    If only we had a position that was in charge of groups like the DEA and the DOJ. A person in that position could probably do something about this.

    1. If only the President had pardon and commutation power. But the Constitution is really old and written in a funny language. So it is hard for Cox to understand what it means.

      1. If only the Scheduling decision on Controlled Substances were a regulatory matter.

        1. This, a million times this.

      2. I think it was L Neil Smith that said if he were elected president, he would set up a 24-hour pardon mill to free all nonviolent drug offenders.

    2. This is the one thing a president could pretty much end singlehandedly.

      1. The federal part of it at least. He couldn’t stop the states from using their police power. But he could tell federal prosecutors to stand down and use the hell out of his pardon and comutation power.

    3. Ugh. The “the President is powerless over things entirely within his control and people who serve entirely at his pleasure, so stop yelling at him” line of argumentation drives me up the fucking wall, especially considering just how often it’s babbled out by people who blamed Bush when their toast was burned.

      I have a relative whose favorite expression during the Bush years was “the buck stops here” in regards to executive responsibility. Haven’t heard that line in years. It’s always the fault of obstructionist Republicans, it seems.

  3. I don’t understand why people like Cox can’t admit the obvious. The woman can feed herself so she has to know this is complete bullshit. It would be one thing to say “Obama sucks on the drug war but Romney is just as bad”. That is at least bears some relationship to reality. But to claim that Obama is anything but awful requires an astounding amount of delusion or dishonesty. Would it really hurt that bad to admit the truth?

    1. The truth would shatter her world view to the core. That must be avoided at all cost.

      1. Always remember, the other side is the one with the useful idiots.

    2. The left is allergic to the truth.

    3. Did you miss this post?

      https://reason.com/blog/2012/11…..th-preside

      1. I am blocked from seeing the video. But I am sure it is quite entertaining.

        1. Watch it when you get home. It’s only a few minutes, and totally worth it.

          It shows leftist cognitive dissonance in a disturbing way.

          1. I’m too scared to watch it, actually.

            1. It is fscking hilarious. People really are clueless.

            2. It’s kind of funny, actually. When the Obamatrons are told that these evil deeds Romney is supposed to support are actually things Obama has already done, you can see the sheer confusion in their eyes.
              “Obama is good. Obama is wonderful. How could this be true? It can’t be true. It isn’t true. Nope, this person must be making stuff up. Yeah, that’s it. Can’t be true. Obama is wonderful.”

        2. I can summarize:

          Interviewer: Here are some policies, do you agree with them?

          Answerer: No, those are bad.

          Interviewer: Would it change your mind if I said those are Obama policies?

          Answerer: Yes, those are good.

          1. So it is like invasion of the body snatchers.

            1. No, they were bothered by what they heard – I would have thought they would simply assume the interviewer was making it up, but instead they declared themselves troubled, but not to the extent of voting for someone else. (except the one immigrant guy who was going think carefully about what he learned)

    4. Truth is irrelevant. Only TEAM matters.

      1. But you could say “sure Obama sucks on drugs, but he is on my team and the other team sucks worse”. That would at least be rational. Cox goes further than that. She is basically saying “Obama is great on drugs because Obama is great on everything”. And that is not TEAM, that is fucking creepy.

        1. TEAM is creepy, dude. Super fucking creepy.

          1. It’s almost like they don’t even know they have a disease…hmm…

  4. Maybe she should just go back to writing about anal sex, since she doesn’t seem to know about anything else.

    1. I always forget, was she the actual hooker selling anal sex on capitol hill or just the hooker’s agent?

      Cox is one of those people that I cannot figure out why anyone knows her name. She has never writen a single interesting or smart thing.

      1. Hooker agent. She wasn’t the anal sex receiver. She just wrote about it.

        She wrote the Wonkette blog when it started I believe, and wrote about anal sex. And now she’s a serious journalist.

        Or something.

        1. Yeah she strikes me as way too top shelf white girl to do anything like anal. And wonkette was an amazing pile of shallow stupidity. And it made her career.

          The contrast between the new media right and new media left is instructive. Say what you want about people like Roger Simon or Breitbart or Glenn Reynolds, that are at least serious people. The left new media is shallow under 40 nitwits like Cox and Ezra Klein.

        2. She wrote the Wonkette blog when it started I believe, and wrote about anal sex. And now she’s a serious journalist.

          The backstory.

      2. I must have missed that delightful episode. What’s the gist?

        1. Cox ran a lame ass blog called wonkette. She was friens with some hill rat that was selling herself for money to various staffers. So the hill rat started writing a diary on wonkette including tells of anal sex and how her asshole hurt afterwards.

          It was real high culture.

      3. She wasn’t the hooker (but judging by this article she’s still a prostitute for the powerful), though I don’t remember her exact role.

      4. Hooker’s agent. I have to admit, had it not been for that whole kerfuffle, nobody would know who the hell Ana MArie Cox was. I guess she played her cards right on that one.

  5. So what inspires Cox to write that she will “vote for Obama secure in the knowledge that under a second Obama term, life for those suffering because of the drug war will get better”?

    Dipshittery.

    1. Blind, delusional, creepy statement of faith. Jim Jones had less brainwashed followers.

  6. More b.s. about what Obama’s gonna do in his next term. Why didn’t he propose all this (and other b.s. he claims he wants to do) when
    the Dems had complete control from 2009-2011? I get real tired of
    incumbents talking about “my plan” when they’ve done zilch to advance
    the plan so far. Ron Paul didn’t care if he was the only vote for something because he had the courage of his convictions.

    1. He has a 68% approval rating in 2009 and large majorities in both houses of Congress. And he didn’t do jack shit. I am sure things are going to be different in a second term as a lame duck who barely won re-election and with a hostile Congress. It will be all kittens and rainbows I am sure.

      1. The stock prog response I get when I bring that up:

        “Well that isn’t an argument against Obama, it’s an argument in favor of electing nothing but democrats to all positions!”

        1. Sixty votes in the Senate just wasn’t enough.

          1. B-b-but all 60 of them were not far-left democrats you see, several of them were moderates. They had to had to be pandered to to get things passed b/c they feared their reelection chances if they gave it up too easily.

            Really the only thing that will help is appointing far left dems to a supermajority in both houses and getting rid of elections so that they don’t have to worry about the ignorant masses holding back the Great Utopia.

            1. That is actually what they believe. The idiot governor of North Carolina let the mask slip and admitted as much. See also Tom “I wish we could be China for a day” Friedman.

              1. What do you mean a day?

  7. In fairness, if Obama had paroled 100,000 drug offenders in his first term and even one of them had murdered someone- well it would be Willie Horton all over again.
    The public good is not as important as a second term after all.

  8. Ask yourself this:

    What’s in it for Obama to dial back the drug war in his second term? What benefits (political and/or financial) will he reap?

    I can’t think of anything, really. Which tells me he won’t do a damn thing. If you can think of some benefit to Obama, let’s hear it. Maybe I’ll change my mind.

    1. The only thing I can think of is his “legacy.”

    2. What benefit is there in winning a second term period. He can sail off to Hawaii with all of those unspent campaign funds.

      1. Can he? What happens to unspent money in a Presidential campaign account?

  9. STOP SPELLING HER NAME WRONG

  10. I’ve been enjoying this sideshow of liberals who pretend they are making a calculated decision when they explain why they are voting again for Obama as if anyone ever had any doubt whatsoever who they were voting for. This Cox piece is classic.

    “Well after careful consideration, even though Obama has disappointed me in not actually doing anything about the issues I care about and he has been worse than Bush in terms of national security and individual liberties, he still has been a great liberal and deserves my vote. Obamacare.”

    1. And don’t forget there is Jill Stein out there. So it is not like the choices are Obama, Romney or Johnson. If you are really a believing liberal, there is an option for voicing your disaproval of Obama.

      At this point there is nothing Obama could do, up to and including locking people in camps that would cause idiots like Cox to stop supporting him. In fact the worse he gets the more they will support him because the worse he is the harder and more embarassing it is going to be for Cox to admit she was wrong about him.

      1. John are you suggesting that Obama will make things harder for Cox?

      2. From the liberals I know, I’m not sure that Obama could do ANYTHING that would cause them to turn away.

        He could probably get enough of them to support him pulling a FDR and getting a third term. Look at what the idiotic liberals in New York did with Bloomberg and his third term, Obama could make that happen easily.

        It’s not a political movement, it’s a freaking cult.

        1. It really is. Thank God it takes 2/3s of the states to ammend the Constitution.

      3. But John, voting for Stein will just make sure Romney wins, even if their state is a lock for Obama. Plus, they have to make sure he gets the popular vote or he won’t have the mandate to do all the dreamy stuff he promised the first time.

        *This is what progressives actually believe.*

        1. Curiouser and curiousier, good sir! This is the exact same thing that conservatives believe.

          1. Yes it works on both teams, but I’m not talking about progs voting Romney, just third party.

  11. Cox also buys into the whole “drugs are bad, mmmkay” ONDCP mindset lock, stock, and barrel. It’s “progress but not perfection,” and part of that progress is forcing people into rehab against their will, because rehab is good and better than prison and addicts are addicts whether they admit it or not.

    Right now, of the estimated 23 million Americans who need treatment for the disease of addiction, less than 1 percent get treatment. The truth is, most addicts don’t want treatment, but some do: about two million, and over a quarter of them cited inability to pay for treatment as their number one reason for not getting it. The ACA addresses this [by] establishing parity for treatment of addiction as a mental disease on par with any other disease?making professional treatment an option for everyone (everyone!); allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance through the age of 26?thus creating a safety net for those who develop addiction in early adulthood; and mandating coverage despite pre-existing conditions?right now, anyone with a history of chemical dependency would be rejected from any affordable plan….

    The ACA might even make a dent in the percentage of diagnosed addicts who don’t think they need treatment, as well as those who don’t even know they have a disease, via grants for something called Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT).

    Fuck off, slaver.

    1. “A user is an abuser”

    2. Court ordered treatments are a waste of money.

      1. Not if you see them as nothing but a pay off to unions and various cronies. Then they make perfect sense.

        1. Maybe we can get the rehab retards to unionize, and start wielding some clout in opposition to the prison guard unions. Get more people out of prison at least, and sit back and let the two groups slit eachother’s throats.

          1. Rehab is just as much of a racket as prison. When you think about the number of dem voters who benefit from the drug war, you realize very quickly that the Dems are never going to get better on it. Social workers, rehab counselers and such are all reliable dem voters. And all make a fortune off of court mandated rehab.

            1. Oh I completely agree with you; hence my “slitting throats” comment.

          2. Why not rehab while in prison? Combine the two? Satisfy both unions. You lack vision.

  12. So what inspires Cox to write that she will “vote for Obama secure in the knowledge that under a second Obama term, life for those suffering because of the drug war will get better”?

    “Because MAGICK!”

  13. Ana Marie Cox is “secure in the knowledge” about a lot of things that aren’t true.

    1. “Relax in the safety of your own delusions.”

  14. I like the part she she asserts that jails will start dispensing drug-rehabilitation services because of the ACA.

    Riiiiiight.

  15. the Bush holdover Lionheart, Bernanke, Obama sure likes to hold onto the worst appointments of the Bush Administration.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.