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Obama on the Line(s)

By       Message Michael Fox     Permalink
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I’m not talking the phone line, here.  I’m talking about the lines he fessed up to doing in his youth.  In his memoir, published years ago, Senator Barack Obama fairly candidly discussed – like other politicians using the jargon unique to Washington – his “experimentation” in college.  


Now, along comes Gov. Mitt Romney, ever the pure-White-Man-with-no-history-of-vice-whatsoever to chastise the Senator for having acknowledged ever having tried – much less used - cocaine and marijuana.  And to this I say, ENOUGH ALREADY! 

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 First of all, Barry (his nom de youth), were you wearing a lab coat and latex gloves at the time you stuck that straw up your nose?  I doubt it.  Probably, a Qiana nylon Huckapoo shirt would’ve been the more likely attire, and the lab was somebody’s dorm room or some groovy Manhattan disco on a night out from studies at Columbia.  It is absolutely anyone’s guess who the lab assistant was.  And, though I could have lots more fun visualizing this late ‘70s – early ‘80s party night activity, my only beef with it is revisiting it as experimentation!

  It was nothing of the kind.  It was partying, plain and simple – and that’s just great.  I am glad to know that the candidate had the kind of interesting social life that would make him able to relate to most of his generation, as well as those ahead of him and most certainly younger generations.  It’s not advocating irresponsible drug use – it’s about having a reasonable, honest national discourse.  But - damn it - let’s not use these stupid euphemisms to sterilize the conversation.


Still, our politicians haven’t caught up with the rest of the population.  Drug use is, unfortunately, so highly stigmatized in this country.  So Mitt Romney has attacked Obama’s discussion of youthful cocaine use.  Romney feels it shouldn’t be discussed.   Romney claims to have never touched the stuff.  Maybe he hasn’t.  But why shouldn’t it be discussed? 


We all now know that, as with sexual abstinence programs, the “just-say-no” approach to drugs doesn’t work.    It’s past time to try a new approach, and there’s a growing buzz in the highest levels of international diplomatic policy chatter about (gothic organ chords here) legalization!  But you can’t get near drug legalization, or decriminalization, without ever even talking about the substances themselves; without adult, rational discussion – using real-world vocabulary - no more “experimentation

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Only then can kids have these matters presented to them in a responsible fashion, and, potentially learn (as – believe it or not was once taught in NYC schools) what these drugs are, what they do, how dangerous and/or addictive they are.  These are lessons young adults can really use, so they can make informed decisions.  Hopefully, most will choose not to use drugs, or for that matter, cigarettes, or for that matter liquor.  But that, of course, is optimistic nonsense.  We must stop pandering to the lingering ghost of Carrie Nation.  Prohibition of alcohol was a disaster.  Prohibition of marijuana and cocaine has been exponentially worse.  Statistically, eleven percent of users of any addictive substance will succumb to that level of use.  They will do so whether it is legal or not.  It’s just that if it’s legal, they a get medical attention, not imprisonment. 


Maybe, because he used marijuana and cocaine recreationally and, evidently, responsibly (having not become addicted), Senator Obama can take a more enlightened approach to overhauling our country’s draconian drug enforcement policies.  It seems Gov. Romney prefers the status quo.  So I ask you…wouldn’t it be better to open up the discussion honestly?  Maybe then we can at least have the discussion.

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Michael Fox is a writer and economist based in Los Angeles. He has been a corporate controller, professor, and small business entrepreneur. After a life-altering accident, he spent five years learning more about medicine and the healthcare (more...)

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