Pubdate: Sat, 20 Feb 2010
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2010 Independent Media Institute
Author: Tony Newman
Note: Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.


What About Dubya's Alleged Cocaine Consumption As a Younger Man? Or 
Rush Limbaugh's Painkiller Addiction?

Giddy Republican leaders and conservatives of all stripes were fired
up yesterday when they gathered at the annual Conservative Political
Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.

All of their heavy hitters were there, from former/future Presidential
Candidate Mitt Romney to Scott Brown, recently elected Senator from

One speech that is being quoted in newspapers and on TV screens around
the country is from author Jason Mattera. The "zinger" from Mattera
likened the CPAC conference to Woodstock -- "except that unlike the
last gathering, our woman are beautiful, we speak in complete
sentences and our notion of freedom doesn't consist of cocaine, which
is certainly one thing that separates us from Barak Obama."

While the whole quote is offensive, I want to hold up a mirror to
Mattera and the GOP on the issue of drug use. Surely many in the crowd
who were chuckling and cheering remember that President Bush - "the
straight shooter" -- was never able to answer simple questions about
his cocaine use. For years his answer was that he made "youthful

Let's also remember that President Obama's GOP challenger, John
McCain, and his family, know about substance abuse on a very personal
level. Cindy McCain had a well-known addiction to prescription pain
pills. She was so hooked that she illegally used her charity to obtain
the drugs. She would have physicians write prescriptions and then
filled them with names of her staff.

And how about Rush Limbaugh, one of the most prominent conservative
voices? Anyone remember how he would send his maid out to score him
his Oxycontin? I could go on and on. Has Sarah Palin ever used an
illegal drug? Yes. Newt Gingrich? Yes.

I would never expect our elected officials to go through life without
trying drugs. We are a society swimming in drugs: Marijuana, Prozac,
Ritalin, Cigarettes, Alcohol, Viagra. Almost every American uses drugs
both for pleasure and to soothe pain - and more than half of American
adults have used an illegal drug.

Past or current drug use should not be worthy of ridicule -- but
hypocrisy should be. Rush Limbaugh once scoffed at the idea that
African Americans are disproportionately arrested on drug charges, and
suggested that the solution should be to arrest more white people. Yet
when he was busted for drugs, he changed his tune in a heartbeat.

And how about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? When asked if he had
smoked marijuana he said yes, and even added that he enjoyed it. Yet
under Mayor Bloomberg, New York has the shameful distinction of being
the marijuana arrest capital of the world. Last year 40,000 New
Yorkers were arrested and jailed on low-level pot possession charges.
More people have been arrested on marijuana possession charges under
Mayor Bloomberg than under any elected official in New York history!

It is in this context that President Obama's honesty on drug use was
so refreshing, especially considering the lack of candor from his
Democratic White House predecessor, Bill "I didn't inhale" Clinton.
Obama openly admitted to smoking marijuana and trying cocaine as a
young man. Obama has also been open about his current struggles to
give up cigarettes. His candidness about his past and current
experiences with substance use and dependence set a new standard for
honesty. And even more important was the response from voters who
never let it become an issue and voted for him to be their President.

Drug war propaganda demonizes and dehumanizes people who use drugs.
Once the silent majority of people who use drugs speak out, the
stereotypes that drive the war on drugs will be impossible to sustain.
I hope and believe that one day soon an elected officials' support of
inhumane and racist drug laws will cost more votes than simply
admitting to having tried a certain drug.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake