Marc Ambinder has a totally weird and distracting piece in GQ [yesterday] saying that unnamed sources have told him to expect important drug policy reforms if Obama is re-elected. I think it's a bunch of crap.
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. [GQ]
That's just the first sentence of many, but we can stop right here because I think there's been a huge misunderstanding. Marc Ambinder seems to think that Obama's people talking about reforming drug policies is a meaningful event, but alas it is anything but that.
Not so many weeks ago I watched with my own eyes as Obama's drug czar draped himself in the flag of reform at an event that was designed to placate pre-election frustration among progressives with regards to Obama's absolute failure to fix a single aspect of the massive war on drugs. The Obama Administration will tell anyone willing to listen that they are thinking creatively about solutions to our swollen criminal justice catastrophe, and it's hardly the sort of "exclusive" breaking news Ambinder breathlessly brings us.
In fact, the real story is the exact opposite of what was reported here. Obama isn't trying to win political points by pretending to support the war on drugs until after the election, at which point he will begin implementing important reforms. He's actually trying to win political points by pretending not to support the war drugs until after the election, at which point he can continue waging the drug war worse than ever.
You see, the drug war is really rather unpopular these days. You score more political points by attacking it than by propping it up, which is exactly why these "aides and associates" of Obama's have no problem telling their friends in the mainstream press about the President's bold post-election plans for fixing flaws in our drug policy. They're just saying this stuff because they know people want to hear it.
The most inaccurate statement you can make about Obama's approach to drugs is that he's trying to look tougher than he actually is. In reality, this administration speaks routinely of backing away from harsh policies, while simultaneously deploying the same drug war demolition tactics we've endured for decades.
If anyone in the press is looking for a good story about Obama's approach to drugs, I'd recommend looking into the massive facade of false promises that's already unraveling in front of us, rather than regurgitating further rumors of future reform.