Drug Policy

The Drug War is the Other War Bush-Era Neocons Can't Quit

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You've likely seen former Vice President Dick Cheney defending failed U.S. efforts in Iraq. He's been hitting the TV shows and the op-ed pages with his daughter to argue that Iraq was going super-well until President Obama screwed things up by leaving that country on the timetable put into place by…George W. Bush.

Yeah, well, as I write in a new column at The Daily Beast:

It turns out that Dick Cheney isn't the only Bush administration muckety-muck still fighting the last war.

Even as the former vice-president took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to blame Barack Obama for the deteriorating situation in Iraq, George W. Bush's drug czar, John P. Walters, is arguing in Politico that no, really, victory in the war on drugs is just around the corner. We've just got to hold the line, don't you see, especially against Barack Obama, "whose administration has facilitated marijuana legalization" despite also setting a record for federal raids against medical pot dispensaries in California.

More important, insists Walters, is that you understand "Why Libertarians Are Wrong About Drugs."

The short version: Currently illegal drugs are uniquely addictive and destructive of individual autonomy. If they were legalized, we would become addicts incapable of the very sort of personal responsibility upon which libertarianism is predicated.

It's nice that a former drug czar is so invested in libertarian philosophy that he's looking out for its future. It goes without saying that Walters has no idea of what he's talking about whether he's discussing classical liberalism or the effects of drugs on people or even basic drug policy (yes, he immediately leaps from legalized pot in two states to legalized heroin everywhere and drums up the specter of a heroin-addict voter bloc: "all heroin users, compelled by their disease to support a particular political candidate?"). In any case, he pleads, if you think drug prohibition is bad, just wait until you see drug legalization! To which I respond:

What exactly will replace prohibition? When it comes to pot, we've got two states—and the country of Uruguay–exploring options right now. When it comes to wider-ranging experiments, we've got countries such as Portugal, which decriminalized drugs a dozen years ago and has had strongly positive results. And we've got our own imperfect repeal of alcohol prohibition to learn from.

Exactly what a more libertarian America—one in which adults are allowed to modulate their moods more freely–will look like is anybody's guess. But just about anything would be preferable to a decades-old drug war that has spent trillions of dollars, locked up millions of people, warped American foreign policy, shredded the Constitution, and stolen time from K-12 classrooms. Only battle-fatigued drug warriors like John Walters can't see that.

Read the whole column.

Jacob Sullum discussed Walters' op-ed here.

NEXT: Baylen Linnekin on the Battle for Food Freedom

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  1. It’s difficult to ululate a monosyllable like “Bush”, but Reason is getting pretty good at it. Practice is making perfect.

    1. Well, he is almost as bad as the current president.

      1. He’s been gone for just shy of five and a half years and you might think the statute of limitations on telescreening him for the daily Two Minutes Hate might have run out by now.

        1. I think the Iraq collapse bringing Bush staffers out to talk about Obama’s shortcomings has also brought Bush back into the spotlight.

          1. Too logical an explanation, better just say something about Cosmos and cockailz parties!

          2. Bush does keep his own mouth shut, though.

            1. He definitely should get props for that.

              1. (If only all the others in that club would follow his example.)

    2. So when a former Bush administration official pens an op-ed titled Why Libertarians Are Wrong About Drugs one of the leading libertarian magazines in the country should not respond, because otherwise BOOOOSH! See, this kind of thing actually bolsters PB’s point that many here just don’t want criticism of Republicans on Reason.

      1. Who gives a sparrow’s fart about Buttplug’s points?

        1. My point is that your complaining about a libertarian magazine responding to a former Bush official specifically calling out libertarians certainly makes your response of ‘BOOOSH!’ to PB seem a bit suspect, sort of like some knee jerk aversion you have to any criticism of Bush rather than Obama than something about PB’s biases.

          1. Here’s the deal. We can agree that our political, personal, and economic liberties are in pretty rough shape and getting worse. We can further probably agree that the two Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, LBJ and G W Bush had a lot to do with getting us in this fix. But that’s strictly of historical interest and has jack squat to do with getting out of tbe mess.

            1. I don’t disagree with any of that, it’s just that when someone calls out libertarians specifically its hardly unsurprising or an indication of some wrong focus or bias for libertarian sources to respond.

              1. So respond to the guy who did the calling out and leave his old boss, who has gone away and shut up, out of it.

                Of course nobody, most especially Daily Beast readers, remembers who John P. Walters is or was, but attaching Bush’s name to the article at least attracted some eyeballs.

                1. Your second sentence provides the answer to your first: the article mentions he was a Bush official because that’s his claim to fame. Additionally, Bush’s veep made similar comments recently.

                  1. No, his claim to fame is that he is a former government official, that he was a Bush official is of little interest or relevance.

                    1. “former government official”

                      In the Bush administration.

                      Geez, you guys act like it’s He Who Must Not Be Named.

                    2. “In the Bush administration”

                      Which has nothing to do with anything.

                      Here’s the point you’re missing. The guy you worked for means virtually nothing when it comes to getting your point heard in Washington. What matters is “were you part of the apparatus”.

                      Your incessant desire to focus on trivialities is kind of silly.

                  2. Yes, BOOOOSH is still a hook to get eyeballs.

    3. Seriously? 99% of the ‘Bush’ articles here are pointing out that Obama carried on the same polices that his predecessor put into action – to disasterous effect.

      None of them are flattering and none of them deflect blame from Obama to Bush.

      If you want ‘Buuuuuuush’, you can look to our own commenter, who loves to point out how none o this is Obama’s fault since Bush did it first.

      1. our own commenter

        Don’t claim Shriek as one of us, we all know he’s not. It makes us look bad to associate him with us Reasoners.

  2. (yes, he immediately leaps from legalized pot in two states to legalized heroin everywhere and drums up the specter of a heroin-addict voter bloc: “all heroin users, compelled by their disease to support a particular political candidate?”)

    The horror.

    The HORROR.

    1. …”the specter of a heroin-addict voter bloc: “all heroin users, compelled by their disease to support a particular political candidate?”

      I live in CA; I believe he’s onto something!

  3. If the GOP doesn’t have social issues to pound the table over, what does it have?

    1. Well it could tap into America’s natural skepticism and frustration with big government bureaucracies and regulations while promoting maximum individual liberty.

      1. And how they manage to avoid doing that is one of the world’s great mysteries.

        Maybe because tea partiers are icky or something?

      2. “Well it could tap into America’s natural skepticism and frustration with big government bureaucracies and regulations while promoting maximum individual liberty.”

        If the party of stupidity and venality were not the party of stupidity and venality they would do just that and sweep nearly every election. Unfortunately they are the party of stupidity and venality so they are not going to.

        1. I don’t think they’re stupid, it’s just that a significant wing of the GOP base are social conservatives, and they naturally want things they find important to be addressed.

          The key though is to address that by picking and choosing concerns of that group that involve government intervention and/or explaining how much can be gained by focusing on this common ground. Rand Paul is doing a great job of doing this and the progressives are helping out by insisting on government interference in nearly every social issue being debated (gay marriage goes to anti-gay discrimination laws, allowing reproductive choice goes to mandating it, etc).

  4. BOOOOOOOOOOSH forced his successor to appoint Michelle Leonhart head of the DEA.

    1. You guys are as preictable as Pavlov’s dogs, ring the bell, salivate, criticize a Republican, demand a criticism of a Democrat.

      Gillespie and Reason have not shied away from articles criticizing the Obama administration and other Democrats’ horrible stances on drug liberty. They are responding to this Bush official because he just wrote an op-ed specifically calling out libertarians. Far from you having anything real to say about Gillespie or Reason’s bias, you project your own, a need to see every denunciation of a conservative or Republican as evidence of bias unless accompanied by a (bigger) denunciation of Democrats in the same area.

      1. You’re as predictable as Pavlov’s dog, Botard.

        BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH! That’s for you.

        And, for the record, I despise BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

        BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

        Go back to your Pre-Intro To Logic coursework and see what else you can school us in, college boy.

        /waiting anxiously for further wisdom

        /BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH

        1. Of course you have nothing to say, which is kind of my point.

      2. Well Bo, everyone here is sick to death of hearing the Bush horseshit. By horseshit I mean accusations of being Bush lovers, when in fact nearly everyone here curses that name.

        One can easily go back to the archives and look at the comments from the Bush days and see plenty of Bush bashing. What you can’t find are criticisms of the jug eared halfwit from the ones making those accusations.

        Forgive them if they are a little hypersensitive.

        1. No one was calling anyone a Bush lover here. No one. Gillespie wrote an article responding specifically to a Bush administration official because…Bush administration official just called out libertarians on this. Now why would THAT set Homple and Brooks off on their ‘BOOOOSH!’ childishness?

          That’s not hypersensitive, that’s projection.

          1. My point is that your complaining about a libertarian magazine responding to a former Bush official specifically calling out libertarians certainly makes your response of ‘BOOOSH!’ to PB seem a bit suspect,

            That appears to me to be you calling someone a Bush lover. Admittedly, it’s more of a strong implication, but there it is, and at best, you can simply disagree on the level of attraction you were implying.

  5. You guys are as preictable as Pavlov’s dogs,

    And you’re as dumb as a fencepost.

    A sizeable majority of the people here despised and routinely ridiculed BOOOOOOOSH during his Presidency. But how could you know that, what with being in grade school at the time?

    1. So why the kneejerk reaction to a simple Reason article responding to a Bush official that specifically criticized libertarians? You can’t say ‘this guy Walters is so wrong’ without adding ‘but Obama’s current guy is wrong too!!!’?

      1. What kneejerk reaction?

        There have been 40 something comments in 2 and a half hours, a third of which are yours.

  6. Far from you having anything real to say about Gillespie or Reason’s bias, you project your own, a need to see every denunciation of a conservative or Republican as evidence of bias unless accompanied by a (bigger) denunciation of Democrats in the same area.

    Wow. Speaking of projection, I’m sure there is a drive in theater somewhere who could use the services of a guy like you.

    1. It’s funny that a fellow who just referred to grade school seems to be limited to ‘I know I am but what are you’ rebuttals.

  7. What “kneejerk reaction” you fucking retard?

    My only reflexive reaction is to your prissy santimonious whining from atop your rickety soapbox.

    1. The Late P Brooks|6.21.14 @ 11:04AM|#

      BOOOOOOOOOOSH forced his successor to appoint Michelle Leonhart head of the DEA.
      reply to this

  8. [insert c as needed]

  9. Neocon is a person who used to be a liberal or progressive but changed their mind – neo = “new”. David Horowitz and entertainerDennis Miller are good examples of neocons. Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are not neocons.

  10. Get Bo talking about Clarence Thomas; that’ll get him banned, given that he’ll out himself as agreeing with Murican.

  11. I figure that whenever a Reason writer comments on Bush and people call him a left-wing apologist, or whenever he comments on Obama and people call him a Republican dupe, that he is doing a decent job.

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