Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Obama's second term

I suspect you've heard people suggest that when (not if!) President Obama wins a second term, he won't have to worry about being elected again and we'll see all kinds of wonderful progressive stuff from him. I know I've heard people say that.

But I don't buy it. The assumption of course is that there's some inner progressive in him that he's kept in hiding for political reasons. First of all, that analysis misses how President Obama has often been to the left of his critics already. And secondly, he's let it be known throughout his whole life that when it comes to traditional lefties, he's just not that into them. The man is nothing if not a died-in-the-wool pragmatic.

So when I first saw this article about how President Obama will take on the totally ineffective drug war in his second term, I just assumed it was more of the same kind of wishful thinking.
According to ongoing discussions with Obama aides and associates, 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.

Don't expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself. And pot-smokers shouldn't expect the president to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana. But from his days as a state senator in Illinois, Obama has considered the Drug War to be a failure, a conflict that has exacerbated the problem of drug abuse, devastated entire communities, changed policing practices for the worse, and has led to a generation of young children, disproportionately black and minority, to grow up in dislocated homes, or in none at all.
The author doesn't claim that these "aides and associates" of the President have given him any specifics about what exactly Obama would do. So you're left with wondering "what's the plan?"

But then I read this article about what President Obama is already doing to slow down the war on drugs.
“Don’t expect miracles,” Ambinder cautions, and that’s where he gets it wrong. The miracle has already happened. Here’s the answer that Ambinder’s anonymous sources failed to leak to him: the pivot point for Obama’s new direction is homegrown marijuana, and it’s already started.

The presidential request for the FY13 budget deals a mortal blow to the helicopter-powered marijuana eradication umbrella. It does so by cutting in half the funding for the U.S. National Guard Counterdrug program, the Defense Department’s contribution to the marijuan-eradication effort that has, for the past 20 years, limited the size of domestic marijuana patches and increased the demand for “blood pot” imported by ultraviolent Mexican drug cartels—while doing nothing to stem the supply to anyone who wants to get high...

Without a fully functional eradication program, the feds cannot keep domestic pot production down. So even if it remains illegal, domestic production could boom during FY13, the first growing season of Obama’s potential second term.
I'm not sure what to make of all of this. If it really is a pivot on the drug war as this author suggests, we still have the rather troubling reality of federal prosecutors going after medical marijuana growers in states like California to deal with.

But I'm not quite as ready to blow it all off as I was initially. After all, what we have learned about this President is that he's always playing the long game and almost never initiates a fight he can't win. As we saw in the 2008 California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, it might be that the country isn't ready to take that kind of thing on directly. But small unnoticed steps to begin the process...? Who knows?


  1. Are Taco Bell, Little Debbie, and Hostess giving heavily to OFA? That's when we'll know.

    1. I guess I'm missing something because I don't get the connection.

    2. Munchies, Smartypants; a side effect of THC consumption.

      (You're such a girl scout.) ; )

    3. OMG - funny!!!!

      Now, if he'd mentioned Cheetos - I would have TOTALLY gotten it.


  2. President Obama is never going to take big progressive steps without big progressive forces already moving the country forward, and even then he won't jump without having a landing place. But this POTUS is also pretty amazing at setting up firm foundations on what looks like shaky ground to most of his critics. If we give him a more progressive (less reactionary-right wing) Congress, he'll make sure any forward progress is well founded and not easily dismantled. Count on it.

  3. And he can also appoint judges with less reactionary stances. Let's not forget how important that is.