From The Field’s Al Giordano: Re-Do It, Mr. President-elect: “Open for Questions” Gets an F. So, here’s the top question from Obama’s experiment with participatory democracy, in which citizens could write in with their questions, and vote them up or down — along with the Obama’s transition team’s response:
Q: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” S. Man, Denton
A: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.
The five other drug policy questions among the top 20 were totally ignored, yet they were closer to the line of scrimmage on Obama’s own stated campaign positions. Here’s a summary of those questions:
– Will the federal government stop raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana users and their doctors?
– If not legalization, what about decriminalization?
(After all, on November 4, voters in Michigan and Massachusetts voted for exactly that; the context of the issue – and “conventional wisdom” about public opinion on it – has shifted somewhat since Election Day.)
– What about prioritizing treatment over incarceration for drug offenders?
– How do we fix the prison system?
– And what about the Food and Drug Administration’s cozy relationship – the freedom from liability and the protective legislation previously given – with the pharmaceutical industry?
Those were the more interesting top drug policy questions that deserved a sincere and transparent response. Instead, they were ignored in favor of picking the question to which he could give a typical politician’s “blow off” response.
It’s still too early to peg Obama as all talk and no action (though people with screwed-up epistemology have been making that case for at least a year now). And I’m pretty sure Giordano is not saying Obama should have come out hard for legalization. What Giordano is saying, though, is that in the first round of responses on the “open for questions” site, Obama had a chance to demonstrate the candor and responsiveness that he campaigned on. And so far, he has pretty thoroughly muffed it.
Hm. “Muffed it” is a baseball expression, isn’t it? I think we need to go with basketball metaphors for Obama. So say this instead: In the initial round of responses to the “open for questions” site, Obama shot an airball.