Last Week I Called Obama a Hypocrite, Maybe He’s just Confused

I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl. You might just be bored, or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection. And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.

Barack Obama on smoking marijuana, 1995.

Obama: Decriminalize pot�-�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper Last week I wrote a post calling Barack Obama a hypocrite for opposing decriminalization of marijuana after smoking all that pot when he was younger. And now The Washington Times is out with a story where they allege that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has said that he has “always” supported decriminalizing marijuana?

“Last fall during a nationally televised presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama hesitantly raised his hand and joined with most of his Democratic rivals to declare that he opposed decriminalizing marijuana.

But as a candidate for the U.S. Senate four years ago, Mr. Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use or possession, according to a videotape of a little noticed debate that was obtained by The Washington Times.

“I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” Mr. Obama told an audience during a debate at Northwestern University in 2004. “But I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana.”

Asked about the two different answers, Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign said he in fact has “always” supported decriminalizing marijuana as he answered in 2004, meaning the candidate mistakenly raised his hand during the presidential debate last fall.”

Ok, so now I’m totally lost. Does Barack Obama in fact believe marijuana should be decriminalized or doesn’t he? And how can he be for decriminalization and against legalization? Aren’t these two things one and the same?

And why are politicians so wishy washy and two faced? How about the next political pundit that gets a hold of Obama sticks him with the question and doesn’t let him wiggle out from underneath it. Either the guy thinks pot should be decriminalized or he doesn’t. A or B, yes or no. This should not be a depends on who he is talking to sort of question or a “depends on what the meaning of the word decriminalization is.”

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8 Comments

  1. jam man says:

    Well maybe… just maybe Mr Obama wants to win the election. Bringing this topic up is not on the list of priorities… even if he is a lefty…

  2. Austin says:

    And how can he be for decriminalization and against legalization? Aren’t these two things one and the same?

    Decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing. Decriminalization only means the reduction or removal of criminal penalties, while legalization removes all legal detriments.

    An example is the decriminalization of fare evasion on Muni. It doesn’t mean there it’s now legal to not pay, it just means that it’s not a criminal act. Now fare inspectors can give tickets instead of court summonses, saving the city money in court costs.

  3. the marquise de sade says:

    I think the issue, and differentiation, is legitimization of “drugs”. Splitting hairs, essentially. Legalization = Legitimization, whereas decriminalization is more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” and we won’t bust you situation. Gee where have I heard that before?

    After all you wouldn’t want a nation of pot smokers, which is *sure* (note sarcasm) to be what would stem from the public legitimization of marijuana, who would be around to support all the wars and join the military? People would be too happy, and Ben & Jerrys would become a corporate powerhouse that would take over the world!!! Not to mention that the national debt could be halved by taxing the shit out of pot. We wouldn’t want that now would we!!!

    God help our country, save for Ron Paul, this is the worst batch of presidential candidates in history. I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

  4. Ijonas says:

    Decriminalising pot only directly affects smokers of pot, meaning if the police catch you smoking it they won’t treat you as a _criminal_ and fine/summon you. Growing and selling pot would still land you in court and/or jail.

    Legalising pot affects both smokers as well as suppliers of pot. The result would be very much like tobacco, you can smoke as well as sell it (probably through licensed premises).

  5. I think that for a long time the situation in Holland was that cannabis was decriminalised but not legal. I think this may still be the case.

  6. Jeff says:

    I personally believe that Obama supports decriminalization, but he’s just not “allowed” to strongly show that support because of fears it would make him unelectable. Now, if he were wishy washy about the war or education or healthcare, I would have big issues with that. He needs to have strong positions on those issues. Gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research – I would hope he has typically Democratic views on those topics, but appreciate that he may need to downplay his enthusiasm on those topics. Decriminalizing pot? While I would love to see that happen, it’s not even on my radar as a vote-swinging campaign issue. As for his wish-washy stance on that topic showing some innate character flaw? Yeah, well, maybe – but maybe it just shows he know that he can’t win all the battles and still get elected and he knows which ones where he needs to stand his ground.

  7. ojbyrne2 says:

    Paul Krugman at the NYT seems to have latched onto Obama’s feel good (but no substance) message of change. His columns have me convinced that Obama is THE candidate of hot air.
    See todays for example:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/opinion/01krugman.html?em&ex;=1202014800&en;=9086ff727708993c&ei;=5087

  8. Shawn Oster says:

    You don’t win an election by supporting decriminalization or legalization of drugs yet he’s walking a very narrow line of not out and out saying it’s wrong, which leaves room for him to actually do something about it if he does get elected. Broad sweeping ideals are wonderful but they don’t help others much unless you can actually get elected.

    He’s only echoing the sentiment of the general population as well; quite a few cops and judges will overlook a joint or bowl if they know it’s just recreational yet they like having the ability to use the law as a reason to bust someone if they suspect they are doing more, such as selling, dealing or using harder drugs.

    If you read between the lines you’ll see he is acknowledging that and saying he understands that. What I like about him is that he doesn’t try to distill everything down into simple 3rd-grade level black & white issues. He may seem like he’s full of hot air or a hypocrite because he attempts to look at both sides of an issue, something very few people do. It’s a big problem that Democrats tend to have, because many of them don’t dumb down the issues into simple monosyllabic right/wrong sound bites, though sadly that’s exactly what some people want, a right/wrong single sentence summation of a hugely complex issue, regardless of the fact that nothing in life is that simple.