The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff
Posted by FoM on January 09, 2001 at 16:58:12 PT
By Arianna Huffington
Source: Salon Magazine
President-elect Bush should make reform-minded New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson his drug czar. While the Washington media is all a-titter about the expected confirmation battle over Attorney General-designee John Ashcroft -- does he or doesn't he have a statue of Robert E. Lee tucked away in his closet? -- next to no attention is being paid to the fact that a vital Cabinet-level position remains unfilled. Drug czar Barry McCaffrey is gone (can't you feel the void?) but no one is even speculating about who President-elect George W. Bush will name to succeed him. 
So let me step into the breach and suggest a nominee. He's a popular Republican governor, the first in his state to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms, the only governor to complete the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii, a model of abstinence who doesn't drink and an expert on drug policy who, on the same day that McCaffrey held his rambling farewell press conference, oversaw the release of a report by a blue-ribbon drug policy panel detailing a comprehensive strategy for really tackling the drug problem. Mr. Bush, I give you New Mexico's Gary Johnson. I understand you two are already friends -- in fact, I hear you guys had a darn good time this weekend when, with other Republican governors, he visited your ranch. Now, like you, he used to party. But, unlike you, once in office he didn't hypocritically introduce tougher drug sentences for first-time offenders and instead launched a crusade for sensible drug policies. As drug czar, he would have the courage and the passion -- and, yes, the compassion -- to lead the nation in a long-overdue debate on this critical subject. According to one of the proposals Johnson has endorsed, individuals "convicted of minor drug-possession offenses would be given prevention and treatment rather than jail." A drug czar who is clear about the urgent need to shift from supply reduction to demand reduction is all the more important if Ashcroft survives the confirmation process. "A government which takes the resources that we would devote toward the interdiction of drugs," Ashcroft has said, "and converts them to treatment resources ... is a government that accommodates us at our lowest and least." When the New Mexico Legislature convenes on Jan. 16, Johnson will introduce eight bills designed to reform his state's drug policies, including allowing the use of medical marijuana for terminally ill patients, decriminalization of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and elimination of mandatory minimum sentences. It seems that these days everyone is calling for an end to mandatory minimum sentences, from President Clinton in his recent Rolling Stone interview to Gov. George Pataki of New York in his 2001 State of the State address. But those horrible laws are still the law of the land because there is absolutely no leadership on the issue. And that's what the new drug czar could provide. I asked Gov. Johnson what he would do if he were tapped to replace McCaffrey. "The first thing I would do," he told me, "is institute truth-in-advertising rules at the Office of National Drug Control Policy because a lot of what has been coming out of it is pure hogwash -- especially the claims of victory." He quickly added: "It would be too bold a statement for Bush to choose me. I'm a little radioactive. But I definitely think that a bold choice is what is needed." Joe Califano, president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, also calls for boldness. "The new drug czar," he told me, "should be a preacher, a leader who understands that the most important part of the job is using it as a bully pulpit. And since those disproportionately affected by the drug war are poor and African-American, maybe the next drug czar should be Jesse Jackson." The image of Bush appointing Jackson makes the head spin so much that the idea of Bush appointing Johnson suddenly enters the realm of the possible. The bottom line for Bush is that drug policy, an issue he avoided like the Ebola virus during the presidential campaign, is where he has the greatest opportunity to quickly demonstrate that he is indeed a reformer with results. And if he wants to build bridges to the African-American community that so overwhelmingly rejected him, few things could be more effective than stemming the flood of black youths pouring into our nation's prisons. Whatever Bush decides, it will be disastrous if he actually takes McCaffrey's glowing curtain lines at face value. The departing drug czar lauded treatment over incarceration but, in fact, 69 percent of his budget went to law enforcement and interdiction, while 60 percent of addicts who needed treatment didn't get it. He also claimed that he was "upbeat," which must have had more to do with his going off to teach at West Point. The record-level number of deaths, the record emergency room admissions from drug use and the record incarcerations for drug law violations are now somebody else's problem. Ours. It's time to bring on a drug czar who can skip the cheery rhetoric, face the fact that the facts aren't good and turn the wheel before we head over the cliff. I nominate Gov. Gary Johnson. Is there a second? About The Writer:Arianna Huffington is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of eight books. Her latest, "How to Overthrow the Government," was published in February by Regan Books (HarperCollins). Source: (US Web)Author: Arianna HuffingtonPublished: January 9, 2001Copyright: 2001 Salon.comAddress: 22 4th Street16th Floor San Francisco, CA 94103Fax: (415) 645-9204Contact: salon salonmagazine.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Arianna Online the Government Articles - Governor Gary Johnson
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Comment #15 posted by fivepounder on February 23, 2001 at 08:09:41 PT
Head Hypocrite of the drug war
No way Johnson gets the job. Lets hope its not Bennett or Lungren.
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Comment #14 posted by dddd on January 10, 2001 at 23:49:17 PT
 It's a good point Kap brings up about the increasing awareness of the drug war in the last year,as compared to the last four.The film "Traffic",seem as if it will bring the subject even further into the limelite.Shame on you FoM....Dubyas' looks should not be used to verify how stupid he is.......dddd
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on January 10, 2001 at 22:29:15 PT
When we were looking to buy a horse we looked for certain faults and qualities in the horses we picked. When I see Bush I think of how you shouldn't buy a horse with a narrow forehead because they were usually skitzy and not very smart. When I see a picture of Dubya I always think of that for some reason. LOL!
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Comment #12 posted by Dankhank on January 10, 2001 at 22:11:23 PT:
I know we're gonna agree on something one day, Neil, but not yet ... :-) explain why short Keating has too many skeletons in his closet ...Thank God ...peace ...
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Comment #11 posted by kaptinemo on January 10, 2001 at 13:19:29 PT:
An icicle's chance?
Few people would be happier than me if suddenly Georgie Too would act as if he has three brain cells to click together and make the screamingly obvious and sane choice of Johnson for DrugCzar. But stupidity has a tendency to have its' way; sadly, I expect Georgie to possibly offer that holier-than-thou fraud Bill Bennett the job. He's packing his cabinet with Republican retreads, why not one more?It generally seems to take 6-10 years for the pols to catch up with the people; political inertia. But the time span between the public's perception of the DrugWar changing from positive through neutral to negative may shorten literally overnight. In just the last year alone, more attention has been brought to the horrendous failures the DrugWar represents than in the last 4. For example, late last year PBS and The History Channel - which by some incredible coincidence(?) showed programs on the same subject, on the same nights, at the exact same times! - reaching millions of people. And the general tone of those programs were, despite their restraint, cooly critical of the Drugwar - and its' proponents. That would not have happened 4 years ago. Notable individuals, not all of them flaming Liberals, have been publicly musing about the 'unintended consequences' of this 86 year long jihad. And finding it wanting.And now the lords of popular culture in Tinseltown are 'discovering' the DrugWar. Namely, 'discovering' its' myriad failures and producing movies that reflect them. The antis will not be able to match such cultural impact with their rather sedate(d) propaganda machine. All it takes is one movie, not necessarily a good one, but one sufficiently 'entertaining' to cause people to openly question the entire matter. Because when Joe Sixpack comes out of the theater, and dimly, tentatively begins to question all he's thought about the DrugWar he acquiesced to before, the antis are finished. Without Joe's apathy, the game is over.Nope, I have to partially agree with the nay-sayers: Johnson will never be offered the position. But with so many irons in the fire now, one of them will wind up between the organizational eyes of the antis. It's no longer a matter of "if", but "when".
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Comment #10 posted by observer on January 10, 2001 at 12:51:51 PT
There's no way in hell George Bush would pick Gary Johnson for drug czar.I don't think anyone is arguing that Gov. Johnson actually will be picked by Bush. (Which, actually, was the straw man Neil attacked.) People here said Johnson would make a fine choice, something different than saying he could or will be picked.  A lot of people here would be happy to see Johnson chosen (extremely surprised, but happy), and for this reason they and I hope he'll be picked, but would never argue that Bush would actually pick him. If you'll look back of my post below, for example, you'll see that I don't disagree with anyone that Johnson has any chance of being picked. It was the other assesments of Johnson, which were disputed. 
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Comment #9 posted by Robbie on January 10, 2001 at 11:07:21 PT:
The probability of the impossible
I hate to glom on to the subject here, but I must agree (in Part) with Neil. There's no way in hell George Bush would pick Gary Johnson for drug czar.That would be like Bush saying "Hi, I've just been (s)elected president and it's time for me to commit political suicide." His base support would demand his head on a stick. If you think John Ashcroft made liberals upset, think about his right-leaning constituency over a nominee with a pro drug stance (any stance not calling for death and destructon for drug users is a pro-drug stance to the prohibs.)I appreciate Arianna's call for more sense in that position, but she wrote this article knowing that Gary Johnson would never have been considered. I'm not saying that I think Johnson shouldn't be drug czar...he agrees with my views on drug laws, so I would be a fool not to like him for that position. However, my contention is that there should be no office for drug-control policy and that the DEA should be slashed and made a neutered non-field beurocratic sub-unit of the FDA.When doctors and family are the only people interested in an individual's drug problem, then government can move on to more important things...liking helping those who want help, and educating people.
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Comment #8 posted by observer on January 09, 2001 at 20:16:48 PT
Chilly In Hades this Year?
 Scary Gary needs to figure out how to reduce those numbers caused by the sale of a legal drug before he who goes off trying to legalize more and different drugs. Gov. Gary Johnson's right on target. One way we can tell he's going the right direction is from the volume of squeals/grunts coming from pigs. The more he threatens the various little piggies' job security (i.e. ability to jail people/steal their stuff), the more they squeal all the louder. It's amusing to hear you squeal about "scary Gary", too, Neil. But then that might require some real hard work and I never got the impression that ole Gary was really up to a real challenge. Another nasty little slur, there Neil. Johnson started his own successful business, and used the proceeds to finance his own campaign, successfully. Sounds like he's been up to challenges all his life, and this issue's no exception.Men of action like Gov. Johnson get a whole lot more respect for speaking out against prohibition, than, say, for example, hypocrites who condemn others for what they themselves (claim to) do.Going against the tide of political-correctness, Gov. Johnson is to be commended for having the courage to speak out against prohibition, and the lies of prohibitionists (and their camp followers, too Neil). Talk is cheap. Sure is, "Neil" you got that one right. Talk is cheap. Especially half-baked lies and hollow platitudes.articles about: Gary Johnson
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Comment #7 posted by cajun01 on January 09, 2001 at 20:00:04 PT
Comparing marijuana to alchohol as far as the related problems with abuse is like comparing right wingers with liberals. Only politics puts them in the same boat together. Do you actually believe that anyone that really wants drugs can't get them because of laws. The laws only create a market where disputes cannot be settled by legal means. Thank God that the advisory panel actually checked their facts beforehand, or they would see things the way you do.
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Comment #6 posted by Neil on January 09, 2001 at 19:28:46 PT
A snowball's chance in hell
Sorry to bust up your party but Governor Scary Gary Johnson isn't going to be the next drug czar. I'm not sure but I'd bet it's going to be Governor Frank Keating of Okalahoma.I used to live in New Mexico. NM has one of the highest per capita rates of drunk driving and alcohol related automobile fatalities in the country. Scary Gary needs to figure out how to reduce those numbers caused by the sale of a legal drug before he who goes off trying to legalize more and different drugs. But then that might require some real hard work and I never got the impression that ole Gary was really up to a real challenge. Talk is cheap.
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Comment #5 posted by ripper on January 09, 2001 at 18:33:37 PT
Gov. Johnson
I'll second that motion.
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Comment #4 posted by Adam Jungwirth on January 09, 2001 at 18:07:55 PT:
Drug Czar
Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico would be the best choice for our nations next Drug Czar. He would finally bring about changes in this country that are long overdue. Thank You Arianna for bringing up this important topic.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 09, 2001 at 17:20:28 PT
I hope
I was so happy when I found this article that I had to check that I didn't post it too fast and make a mistake. I love Governor Johnson and Arianna Huffington. They have something that most politicans just don't have and that is a heart. God Bless Them and Yes! Yes! Yes for Governor Johnson! I would be so happy. I've hoped that he would be considered for a long time and how great it would be. Sanity would return.
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on January 09, 2001 at 17:15:25 PT
I hope Arianna will run for office someday.She's right on.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on January 09, 2001 at 17:02:43 PT:
I Second that Emotion
Right on, Arianna!
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