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Dick Morris Tells John McCain to Propose Harsher Cocaine Laws

Submitted by smorgan on
I noted last week the tendency of our revered political strategists to find themselves stuck in the 80's, arguing that harsh lock-em-up rhetoric is the only way to discuss drug policy in an election.

Well, along comes Dick Morris to prove me right in The Washington Post with this recommendation for John McCain:

Go after the Democrats for their proposals to lower sentences for crack cocaine to make them equal to those for powder cocaine. (Instead, McCain should urge raising penalties for regular cocaine.)

Obviously, the crack/powder disparity is a more nuanced political issue than something like medical marijuana. Still, I have a hard time imagining that voters in 2008 want to hear the candidates promise harsher drug laws.

It's not 1988 anymore. People know those crack laws were racist. People know about our unsustainable, out-of-control prison population. And people know the punishments for cocaine are already plenty harsh. I'm not sure where public opinion breaks on this issue, but I doubt Dick Morris does either.

If I had to guess, I'd say McCain will probably follow the path Morris proposes. The appeal of attacking a candidate who's admitted trying cocaine, and now supports a reduction in crack sentences, will be great. On the other hand, if McCain does this, he'll be standing up for a notoriously racist law in an already racially-charged election.

The candidates should choose their words carefully on this one, as should any political strategist who still thinks proposing longer drug sentences is always a guaranteed winner at the polls.

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