Over at Hullabaloo, Dday posts a video of President Obama' s recent town hall, in which the President "responds" to a question about the economic consequences of marijuana legalization. (I would embed the video here, but I'm not internet-savvy enough to pull that off.) Basically, Obama says that he's answering a bunch of questions based on the online votes the questions received -- he's apologizing for even taking this question. But because 3.5 million people voted, and this was one of the most popular questions, well, he's got to address the question of whether legalization would improve the economy or create jobs -- but not before smirking and making the smart-aleck remark, "I don't know what this says about the online audience." After the audience laughs, he again notes how popular the question was, then asserts, "The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy." Obama and the audience then share another laugh, the audience applauds, and he presumably moves on to important, serious, non-hippie questions. Dday remarks:
In a subsequent post Digby adds:
I agree, of course. This is extremely disappointing behavior. First, Is it really necessary to insult liberals? It would have been better to simply not address the question at all. He's "our" President and he's taking shots at us, making us out to be the lunatic fringe?
Second, the question deserves a serious answer. I'm a realist enough not to have ever expected the 2009 U.S. President to support legalization. But isn't Obama supposed to be an intellectual, rational leader, the likes of whom we haven't seen in this country in many years? And given the utter failure of the war on drugs, the recent and ongoing major problems that Mexican drug cartels have posed for the U.S., the relative harmlessness of marijuana's effects on users, and the high as opposed to a condescending, out-of-hand dismissal -- is clearly called for. economic and social costs of prosecution and incarceration, a rational conversation -- (And last I checked, there is a real push in California for legalization legislation, backed up by real popularly elected legislators and everything, not just us wacko activist bloggers on the internet.)
Look, a real discussion doesn't have to result in the conclusion that marijuana should be legalized, or even that it should be quasi-legalized only as a prescription medication. Data are inconclusive, albeit mainly because the federal government has consistently made performing scientific research in this country close to impossible. There would have been plausible arguments for Obama to make which indicate that legalization wouldn't be a good move -- perhaps even on purely economic grounds. Sadly, that's not how Obama approached this. Instead he sounded exactly like President Bush and administration officials sounded countless times during the W. years, when mocking science, or opposition to torture.