Pubdate: Wed, 24 Feb 2016
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Anderson Valley Advertiser
Author: Fred Gardner


Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders gave one of two keynote talks 
at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco 
last weekend. Dr. Elders had been fired by Bill Clinton after 
acknowledging to the American people that marijuana has medical uses 
and masturbation is normal.

In 2000 the Clinton Era slurved into a TV show called the West Wing, 
in which the president was played by Martin Sheen. One episode, 
watched eagerly by pro-cannabis activists, was reportedly based on 
Dr. Elders' experience. That turned out to be Hollywood PR - head 
writer Aaron Sorkin was just trading on the notoriety generated by 
Elders' firing.

The plot: a female surgeon general (Caucasian, BTW) tells an 
interviewer that marijuana is "no more harmful than alcohol and 
nicotine" and "no more addictive than heroin or LSD." Both comments 
contain misinformation. Marijuana is much less harmful than alcohol 
and cigarettes. LSD is not addictive. Dr. Joycelyn Elders, a 
scientist, would not misstate the facts.

President Martin Sheen is out of town when the Surgeon General does 
her supposedly outrageous truth-telling. Top aides tell her to resign 
immediately so that the Prez doesn't have to fire her. Meanwhile, one 
of the Prez's daughters, a med student, phones a reporter and says 
her dad would never fire the Surgeon General. The Prez returns from 
abroad, is furious at the Surgeon General (who happens to be 
Godmother to the daughter now coming to her defense), and furious at 
the daughter, whom he feels doesn't love him. Soap-a-roonie! The 
Surgeon General explains to Martin Sheen that his daughter really 
does love him, and was showing filial admiration by saying that he 
would never fire her. The Prez is flattered and refuses to accept the 
Surgeon General 's resignation. It's a happy ending with the flag 
flying and the White House glowing and patriotic chords tugging at 
our sentiments.

In real life there was a female Surgeon General (Black, BTW) who 
spoke the truth in terms the President, a Democrat, considered 
impolitic. He offed her immediately and ignominiously, just as he had 
done to Lani Guinere (whose nomination to be Assistant Attorney 
General for Civil Rights he withdrew when Congressional racists objected).

When radical movements and leaders emerge, well-connected people - 
using NGO money and/or media access - start speaking for the movement 
and eclipsing the real leaders. They exude leftiness. They come on 
like allies - "we're helping you reach a wider audience," etc. - but 
actually they're weakening the movement's message and demands. 
Sorkin's exploitation of Joycelyn Elders exemplifies leftiness in 
action. A Santa Monica PR man named Bill Zimmerman - a renowned 
purveyor of leftiness - told attendees at a subsequent NORML 
conference that the West Wing episode had provided "millions of 
dollars worth of free publicity" for their cause.

In 1996 I interviewed Zimmerman by phone. I was in San Francisco, 
working at UCSF and covering the Prop 215 campaign on assignment from 
the New Yorker. Zimmerman was the Prop 215 campaign manager installed 
by Enlightened Billionaires to replace Dennis Peron (who they knew 
they couldn't control). I didn't realize at first that this LA pr man 
was the same Zimmerman who had been Tom Hayden's "gopher" during the 
famous trial in Chicago all those years ago.

Zimmerman called me in late October to see if I could confirm a tip 
he'd gotten that C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General, was 
going to come out against Prop 215. I suggested that he get a 
statement from Joycelyn Elders, also a former Surgeon General. He 
said she was "too tainted." Zimmerman is not a racist (although Rosie 
thought his choice of words was odd); he meant that her dismissal by 
Bill Clinton made her useless for his purposes. Before getting 
through to Koop, who was indeed opposed to 215, I sent this

Note to Bill Zimmerman Oct 28, 1996

This is to urge you to seek the endorsement of Dr. Joycelen Elders 
for the medical marijuana initiative, whether or not C. Everett Koop 
comes out against it. When I raised the prospect you said, "She's too 
tainted." Who tainted her? Not the Christian right, they don't have 
the moral authority. Neither does Bill Clinton. The cops who busted 
her kid? She handled it like a human being, didn't hide anything or 
disown him, just reiterated that she loved him and was going to help 
him deal with his problem. Anybody who has seen her on TV for 20 
seconds knows 1 she's brilliant, 2 she's honest, 3 she's a real human 
being, 4 she's an educator who can't stop and won't stop telling the 
truth. Her comments about masturbation being a part of human 
sexuality about which there is widespread ignorance and myth-didn't 
she have every right as Surgeon General to break through that taboo? 
Let it be the righties who put down Joycelen Elders, don't let it be 
the liberals, don't let it be you. If you want to keep the momentum 
on October 28th and beyond... nothing could help more than announcing 
the support of Dr. Joycelen Elders.

Summon up your courage, Bill.

Fred Gardner

* * *

As late as the summer of 2000 Ethan Nadelmann - the man who hired 
Bill Zimmerman to replace Dennis Peron - used the word "tainted" in 
reference to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I was then working for San 
Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, the National Democratic 
Party was convening in Los Angeles, and Nadelmann was organizing a 
"shadow" event at which he wanted my boss to speak. But Terence felt 
dissed because Nadelmann was offering him a five-minute slot instead 
of a 15-minute slot. (I might be remembering the minutes wrong, maybe 
it was four and ten.) In any case, Hallinan didn't want second 
billing as a speaker, so I called Nadelmann to turn down the offer. I 
suggested that he invite Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a migraine sufferer who 
had recently been arrested for possession (for the second time) and 
was a hero in LA, especially. Nadelmann said "He's tainted."

Team Nadelmann realized soon thereafter that Dr. Joycelyn Elders and 
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are actually great assets, and have been using 
them accordingly ever since.

Flash forward to today, with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders 
campaigning in South Carolina. If Hillary promised to appoint 
"someone the caliber of Lani Guinere to the Supreme Court, it would 
create much-needed distance from her 1990s self and Bill Clinton 
politics. It could cinch her the nomination - but her consultants 
would never go for it. Lani Guinere is tainted.
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