White House Press Secretary thinks “professional left” who criticize Obama “ought to be drug tested”

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator August 10, 2010

    That "professional left" is what some might call "your base", Mr. President, and they think you should legalize marijuana.

    Washington political news outlet The Hill reports on the recent “professional left” remarks made by the Obama White House’s press secretary Robert Gibbs.  Gibbs was expressing frustration at progressive activists who are complaining that the president hasn’t lived up to campaign promises on a number of issues.

    The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

    “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

    Over 850,000 of these people will likely be arrested this year and branded "criminal" for the rest of their lives.

    I don’t disagree that comparing Obama to Bush is crazy; Bush could push the exact bill he wanted through Congress and Obama can pronounce “nuclear”.  It’s the “drug users are crazy” slur, the “drug test” variant of the “what have you been smoking?” that offends me.  It’s that joking about these drug tests that ruin thousands of lives is a response from an official addressing the disappointment in the president felt by the people who voted for him.  Considering the vast majority of people who use “drugs” are using cannabis and the tests for “drugs” most often find cannabis metabolites, he’s talking about us, the 22 million* Americans who will use cannabis this year.

    Full disclosure: I am one of the “professional left”** and attended that Netroots Nation conference Gibbs is obliquely referencing, representing NORML on a marijuana policy panel.

    Republican, Democrat, we still get arrested. (We still have another year worth of George Bush data to collect.)

    But NORML is a non-partisan organization, just as arresting marijuana consumers is a bi-partisan shame (4.9 million under Clinton, 6.2 million under Bush, but Clinton’s overall increase in the annual rate was +90% from beginning to end of his term while Bush’s was +17% between 2001 and 2008; we still await the 2009 final year arrest numbers which chronicle the marijuana arrests from the year before… think of the graph as “arrests up to 2009”, not “arrests up to and including 2009”.)

    Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

    Legalization is actually pretty popular right now. More popular than the President and Congress.

    Well, we know what President Obama and Robert Gibbs think of those of us who “ought to be drug tested”, especially us online activists in the “professional left” who helped get him elected.  We’re chuckled at when we suggest legalizing marijuana (see videos below), even as more than half of America on some polls – not just Left Blogsylvania – are beginning to think it is a damn good idea and California is voting on the issue this November.

    Legalization is more popular than the Congress and the President – who once, like us, was just one bust away from being “Barry the Drug Criminal” for life – so maybe equating our criticisms of government to drug-induced psychosis isn’t the smartest political move.

    One marijuana arrest in their past would have indelibly altered the lives of 41% of America, including these three fellows.

    This is not to ignore the millions of cannabis consumers who find themselves on the right side of the aisle, the Libertarians and true small government, personal responsibility, states rights Republicans, who we count as our ideological allies in ending adult marijuana prohibition.  There are 102 million of us who’ve tried cannabis, including the last three presidents and eight of fifteen of the last major party candidates for president and vice president.***  Right now, our issue is the only thing on which members of the Tea Party and the Netroots Nation can agree on.  Somebody is going to get wise and start courting our votes.

    * Remember these are numbers from a government-sponsored survey where an anonymous pollster surveys random strangers by telephone to ask whether they currently are violating state and federal law… so you might want to adjust upward a bit.  For comparison’s sake, there are more adults in America who will smoke pot this year than there are adult African-Americans in this country.

    ** And yes, I would be satisfied with Canadian health care, thank you very much!  My insurance premiums went up 24% this year!

    *** The admitted / strongly suspected (Danforth, we’re looking your way…) marijuana users are italicized:

    1992 Clinton / Gore vs. Bush / Quayle
    1996 Clinton / Gore vs. Dole / Kemp
    2000 Bush / Cheney vs. Gore / Lieberman
    2004 Bush / Cheney vs. Kerry / Edwards
    2008 Obama / Biden vs. McCain / Palin

    93 responses to “White House Press Secretary thinks “professional left” who criticize Obama “ought to be drug tested””

    1. rev.sleezy says:

      Holy Smokes! Mr Gibbs, Mr O. shame on you. Your ignorance on the subject is embarassing. Please feel free to do a little research beyond the “required by law” statement of no support of the legalization of marijuana. Cowards. Fruit Loops, Doritos, Little Debbies.. marshmellow pies, picture yourself on a boat on a river… with marmalade skies…


    2. Jared says:

      All of these officials want to trivialize the whole legalization question like it’s not a big deal. It is a big deal. I think they laugh at it so the lies don’t have to slip through their teeth so coarsely. Taxation and Regulation is the only way to properly control marijuana consumption, but that steps on way too many industrial and political feet to be a voluntary option by the government. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the American people themselves are going to have to vote to end the cannabis (and eventually all drug) prohibition, the rest of these guys are stuck in red tape, egg shells, and dollars.

      The videos infuriate me. I voted for Obama, carefully based on his politics and promises, and my main support for him was because of his views on legalization. Now? Screw him and his limited vocabulary.

    3. Barbara says:

      Excuse Me? I don’t think so. None of us have declared “war” on you. However, the Constitution might have a little something to say about that idea. We all have special interests, just because it isn’t the same as yours, doesn’t …(tharr be more)mean it’s invalid. Why don’t you ask people if they want their sons and daughters in a war we haven’t tried to win? Get a percentage on that will you? Or how about the wasted time and energy it took before any work was done in the gulf. And speaking of the gulf, how are you planning to fix that anytime soon? People who depend on being able to work at their craft and pay their bills, for instance. It would seem to me that you have far more pressing things to worry about rather than testing activists for pot. After all, legalizing it stands to make someone a lot of money. Personally, I’d just as soon see that becomes its own area rather than grouped with either alcohol or tobacco, it’s not in the same category, not too mention the medical help it provides patients with too many diseases to name here.

      I will tell you right now that I am sorely displeased with this, as it is hardly what was promised by this party of individuals. There is ample reason to doubt here and justifiably an action to create general discord amongst those who voted in this last Presidential election.

    4. Dr.Dunkleosteus says:

      Remind me why the President’s opinion is worth… well anything? He’s a figurehead and a spokesman… for the people; shouldn’t he leave his personal opinions at the door?

      Kennedy didn’t say ” I choose to go to the moon in this decade…” he said “we”… as in the majority of America.

      Mockery of such a popular subject is only going to enrage us further. Of course everyone in the room is going to laugh at Obama’s remarks and applaud him… they’re in the room with the President! With his staff and security no doubt! Being filmed no doubt! Who, with any sane mind, is going to boo the president to his face? Do it, I D.A.R.E you. Haha, ah puns. Now that is something you can laugh about.

    5. mtlasagna says:

      whatever the comparisons, obama is not walking the walk.

      same pentagon chief as bushie, same dea, plus the goldman banker $cam$ and so forth.

      all looks like major busllsh!t to me.

      such a shame ’cause obama looks like he has a heart and sure could use some herb.

      now if he would only rollllll a phatty on prime time.

    6. Davidkevin says:

      Mr. Gibbs made a similar remark when a well-phrased, polite question came up for President Obama in an early online Town Hall forum, before they stopped having them, no doubt because of questions such as this they didn’t wish to answer.

      During his tenure as Press Secretary, Mr. Gibbs has continued the long line of professional spokesdouches holding the office.

    7. Drew says:

      Gibbs’ glib tripe intentionally infuriates and insults.

      Yet it’s the prohibitionists own tongues that dig their graves, shrouds themselves in darkness, cuts themselves to shreds, continues to cause their drunken stupor, spits on God, and proves to God they are not worth having ANY authority after Judgement Day.

      Obama could have stood up to the McCarthyism that is the Evil Religion of Hate (Drug War), but instead he cowed and bent down before it, “all hail Drug War!”

      I’m President Obama, “My Drug Use Was No Big Deal. Yours Should Get You Prison Time!”

    8. safety1st says:

      hmm the funny thing is every 4 to 8 years a man who is the leader of the free world Lie’s about marijuana and how he used it to keep its use unfree and then to take away the people’s freedom in the land of the free

    9. Ty Palmer says:

      Obama obviously feels he cannot lead us out of the failed policy of punitive prohibition. Just as with the end of alcohol prohibition in 1933, Roosevelt privately wished for the people of the United States to make ending alcohol prohibition impossible for him NOT to do, because of the volume of their voices and the sound reasoning behind their argument. Experienced marijuana smoker Barack Obama privately wishes the same thing of the American people today. President Obama knows he won’t get any support for health care and economic reform from the Right if he makes a public call for the legalization of drugs. Your president needs you to raise up your voice in opposition of punitive prohibition and to vote in favor of regulation, control and taxation of all drugs including marijuana. Make it politically impossible for Barack Obama to speak/vote against regulation of drugs. Politicians follow the votes, so please get out and vote in November 2010.

    10. Somedood says:

      Right on!