Drug Czar Might be the Worst Job in American Politics

Following up on the news that the Drug Czar is looking for a new job, I have a piece in the Huffington Post looking at how the current political climate is rendering the Drug Czar's office irrelevant. Issues like marijuana legalization are taking off and threatening to destroy the legacy of anyone who stands in the way. More here.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Very nice, Scott. Very nice.

Very nice, Scott. Very nice.

What would be nice?

What would be nice when it come in the former price of looking the same scene in different windows. I do not know what Scott Morgan is up to with yet another piece (this being the second, actually) about Kerlikowske’s being a “reluctant” Drug Czar. For all intents and purposes, what he is saying is let’s praise Kerlikowske, for he’s is evil but not that bad. Could it be happen in the course of time.

What's in a name


The problem with being a drug czar (and by extension with ONDCP) is not who is in charge, it is the policies they promote and the ideology they incarnate. I trust you, for it is you who say so:

«...his job [...] legally requires him to oppose legalizati­on.»

Gart Valenc

Re: What's in a name

Gart, you've made similar comments in the past and I'm still trying to understand what you're trying to say. Obviously, I am opposed to the war on drugs, so you don't have to sell me on the idea that the drug czar stands for something I find objectionable. I'm quite familiar with ONDCP's charter. But it seems like you're trying to argue that it doesn't matter "who is in charge" at ONDCP, which is like saying that it doesn't matter who occupies any other government position. Of course it matters, and it matters a whole hell of a lot. Gil Kerlikowske is an enormous improvement over John Walters. Believe me. I was a drug policy blogger during the Bush Administration.

Evil but not that evil


The more I think about your counter argument, the more baffled I am:

«to argue that it doesn't matter "who is in charge" at ONDCP...is like saying that it doesn't matter who occupies any other government position»

Forgive me for repeating a comment I made somewhere else, but I do think it makes it quite clear what I'm trying to say:

«I do not know what Scott Morgan is up to with yet another piece (this being the second, actually) about Kerlikowske’s being a “reluctant” Drug Czar. For all intents and purposes, what he is saying is let’s praise Kerlikowske, for he’s is evil but not THAT evil.

In his first piece, [about the same issue April 18] he replies to one of my comments:

«He’s the least enthusiastic drug czar we’ve had. By far. Every word he ever said was soft compared to Walters. To assume he’s exactly like the others simply because he took the job is silly.»

It is childish (I know), but just to see how the logic works, let’s play “fill the gap”:

He’s the least enthusiastic __________ (drug czar, murderer, fraudster, etc.) we’ve had. By far. Every __________ (word, weapon, method, etc.) he ever __________ (said, used, conceived, etc.) was __________ (soft, less powerful, less daring, etc.) compared to (Walters, Al Capone, Bernard Maddoff, etc.) To assume he’s exactly like the others simply because he __________ (took the job, killed, defraud, etc. only a handful) is silly.

I must be missing something, surely!»

Gart Valenc

Re: Evil


Once again, I am not a fan of Gil Kerlikowske and I'm not saying that there is anything good about what he's done. I merely pointed out (correctly) that he's less of a hardass than any previous drug czar. You've mocked me for saying it, but it's absolutely true. For anything bad Kerlikowske has said or done, I can give you examples of more frequent and egregious behavior by John Walters. But that really isn't the point.

What I'm getting at here is something that actually matters: an analysis of what drives and motivates our opposition. Our current drug czar is plainly less motivated than those that came before him. If our frustration blinds us to this, then we become less effective advocates because we can't anticipate how our opponents will behave and develop advocacy strategies accordingly.

For example, because I see that Kerlikowske is reluctant, I know that he's likely to leave the position (something I've personally expected since well before we learned he was applying for a different job), and I'm able to begin working with colleagues behind the scenes to develop a plan for politicizing the process of appointing his replacement.

I'm sorry I didn't spell this out more clearly.



It matters not

If the mission and the policies that give expression to that mission are cast in stone and you are expressly prohibited from researching the consequences of your own policies and more importantly, enquire about alternative policies, then it matters not. 

I do believe a commentator (newlibertarian) on your previous post on the same subject put it eloquently...and rather graphically (perhaps too graphically)

«I believe what Gart is saying is that it doesn't matter if lube is used or not - we're still taking it up the ass...»


 Gart Valenchttp://www.stopthewarondrugs.org

Re: it matters not

Gart, just as Republicans have deliberately appointed ineffective people to environmental positions, it would be entirely possible for a forward thinking President to appoint a drug czar whose private orders were to stall or otherwise undermine the mission of ONDCP. In fact, this will likely happen long before the organization is abolished or restructured. The drug czar has lots of discretion over agency priorities.


I think Gil wants to be free, just like the rest of us.

The Enemy Within

Gil Kerlikowske has met the enemy, and they are them—mind crippled refugees clinging to a fantasy world known as the 1950s; a time when whatever they dreamed up mattered to someone other than themselves. 

Imagine what it must mean for Kerlikowske to go to work every day.  Each miserable, cold, gray morning, greeting and coordinating with mindless control freaks, witless zombies, all of them poor, miserable creatures, oozing their odious slime and polluting the social environment, all addicted to a dubious ideology that harms most people, while giving the elite a pass. 

Yes, Gil, it’s time to move on.  A few restraints are in order.  For Director Kerlikowske, and anyone else seeking a follow-up bureaucratic job, it’s highly recommended you reject any position having one or more of the following characteristics:

(1)        Your agency doesn’t own its own agenda.  The CIA, DIA, military and prison industrial complexes, and a host of other government agencies, piggyback on the easy money to be made on drug wars created domestically and in undeveloped parts of the world.  You, as director, are implicated as a political scapegoat in every rotten deal that goes down as the situation gets uglier by the minute.

(2)        Your agency’s mission and claim to fame is supposed to be one of protecting public health.  Yet, in reality, the acting policies reject harm reduction as a means of protecting citizens’ health—the object being to make drugs more dangerous and allegedly less attractive.  In effect, you, as director, become the official Dr. Josef Mengele du jour: the Angel of Death. 

(3)        Your agency is a treasure trove of past failures, including fraud, lying, misinformation, civil rights violations, theft, murder, mayhem, censorship, criminal negligence, animal abuse, child abuse, bribery, privation of innocents, brutality, perjury, extortion, embezzlement, vote rigging, espionage, kidnapping, infanticide, racism, anti-scientism, scapegoating, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, fanaticism, terrorism….  Even though you may not be personally responsible for this bulging war-chest of horrors, in the public mind, it will still be your fault. 

(4)        Your name as director draws sneers from tens-of-millions of people who read or hear it.  Admittedly, the current director’s situation is a bit improved over the clenched jaw reaction elicited by the mention of John P. Walters.  Nonetheless, the occupation of drug czar has been a career stopper for everyone who’s held the job, except for Asa Hutchinson, and only because he bailed out after three months or so to run Homeland Security. 


So, there it is, the position of drug czar.  Any takers? 


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