by Jack Hunter
My favorite Democrat, Virginia's U.S. Senator Jim Webb, appeared on The Daily Show last night (6/9/08). Take note of Jon Stewart's crack about Webb being a "Trotskyite" during the beginning of the interview, to which the Senator replies that it was "Trotskyites" (the neoconservatives, a movement most certainly rooted in Trotskyite Socialism) that got us into Iraq:
The Confederate flag wavin', 2nd amendment lovin', antiwar Webb (Webb is a Vietnam Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, who served as U.S. Naval Secretary under Ronald Reagan) is a favorite amongst many conservatives, and the independent-minded Senator is satisfying on a number of issues. As The American Conservative's Daniel McCarthy points out, Webb's approach to the War on Drugs is refreshing:
"I’m leaning towards voting for Barr come November. But if Obama picks Virginia Sen. Jim Webb as his running mate, I might have to vote Democratic. Browsing through Webb’s new book, A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America, I see that Webb has a reasonably sound view on the drug war. After listing many of the war’s evils — the overflowing prisons, the counter-productive and region-destabilizing interdiction efforts in Afghanistan and Latin American — Webb writes:
'The time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana. It makes far more sense to take the money that would be saved by such a policy and use it for enforcement [against] gang-related activities. We should also fully fund the increasingly popular concept of drug courts, where drug offenders are allowed to enter treatment instead of prison and have their drug offense expunged from their records if they successfully complete treatment. …
Drug addiction is not in and of itself a criminal act. It is a medical condition, indeed a disease, just as alcoholism is, and we don’t lock people up for being alcoholics. Most Americans understand this distinction, even though the political process seems paralyzed when it comes to finding remedies to address it. Our country urgently needs more funding and more treatment centers for treating this disease, not more prison cells for punishing people who have fallen into conduct that, at bottom, is more harmful to themselves than it is to our society.'
This is, or used be, pre-DLC, a fairly standard liberal line, and there’s much about it I don’t like. I’m enough of a Szaszian to think that drug abuse (and alcoholism) is more often a personal-responsibility issue than a medical one, and more funding for government-run treatment programs doesn’t seem too promising to me. All that notwithstanding, this is still a better, more humane policy than what the Clintonites and Republicans are offering, and it’s about as good as what Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr has been saying lately."