The blogosphere is buzzing about Penn Gillette's smackdown of admitted pot smoker Barack Obama's hypocrisy in now seeking to crack down on the buying and selling of medical marijuana:
Do we believe, even for a second, that if Obama had been busted for marijuana -- under the laws that he condones -- would his life have been better?"
He adds: "If [Obama] had been busted under his laws, he would have done hard f*cking time. And if he had done time in prison, time in federal prison, time for his 'weed' and 'a little blow,' he would not be President of the United States of America.
This is similiar to the point some of us made about Gov. Mitch Daniels last year when it was speculated that he might make a presidential run. When he was a yoot, Daniels was arrested with enough pot to earn a prison sentence but just got hit with a small fine. He says today that justice was served by that special treatment, but he also supports the state's tough drug laws. Leniency for me but not for thee, because I am smart enough to behave rationally without paying attention to the law, but you are not.
I'm not sure "hypocrisy" is quite the right word for these cases. That would be the justified label if it were a case of "do as I say, not as I do." This is "do as I say now, not as I did then," which is a more justifiable position. People change over time, and they tend to apply standards based on their current thinking. A mother who punishes her child for behavior she herself engaged in years ago is not being a hypocrite. It's just that her job description has changed, from that of a child whose mission is to test limits to that of a mother whose mission is to set them.
What's bothersome, though, is the lack of empathy the politicians have for other people. Their own experiences with drugs, and in Daniels' case, his brush with the law, should make them better able to see things from the drug users' point of view. That wouldn't necessarily influence their policies, nor should it, but it could make them seem less like selfish jerks.
Nobody should berate Rush Limbaugh for getting hooked on pain pills. In fact, it's a deplorable situation worthy of a Penn Gillette rant that the government allows the manufacture and sale of such powerful drugs then seeks to further ruin the lives of those who get hooked on them. Buyt he's very much open to criticism that his experience hasn't given him an iota of sympathy for people who get hooked on other drugs. Sure, cocaine is illegal, but so is doc-shopping for pain pills.