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July 3, 2014

Fascinating suggestion of "Mitt Romney for drug czar"

The always brilliant and provocative lawprof Mark Osler has this brilliant and provocative new commentary in the Detroit News headlined "Mitt Romney for drug czar." Here is how it starts:

In a series of public appearances, Detroit native Mitt Romney has planted the idea that he might run for president again in 2016. He should resist the idea; that day has passed.

Instead, Romney should apply his experience and passion to public service in a different way: The Mitt Romney who founded Bain Capital and saved the Utah Winter Olympics should be Drug Czar, and use his financial acumen to destroy the narcotics trade without mass incarceration.

In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney was celebrated (by Republicans) and eviscerated (by Democrats) for his vocation: building up and tearing down businesses. Regardless of how one views the social utility of this enterprise, no one can dispute that Romney is a smart, passionate, well-educated man who loves public service and was very good at what he did while working for Bain Capital.

Romney’s availability matches up with a special moment for narcotics policy. There is a broad right-left consensus that the stale tactics of the war on drugs failed miserably. It wasted billions of dollars in taxpayer money while failing to limit drug use. Meanwhile, millions of Americans went to prison, and a disproportionate number of them were black thanks to harsh new laws focused on crack cocaine. There was something to offend everyone.

I like this idea sooooo much, I really wonder if it could possibly get any legs inside the Beltway. On all modern drug crime and punishment issues — ranging from marijuana reform in the states to the surge of addiction to opiods and heroin to the reduction of federal drug sentences — the country really needs to widely respected "numbers guy" who could bring a clear-headed business perspective to analyzing the pros and cons of various suggested policy initiatives.  I would trust Mitt Romney to be that guy as much, if not more, than just about anyone else President Obama might place in this role.  

July 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Permalink


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"I would trust Mitt Romney to be that guy as much, if not more, than just about anyone else President Obama might place in this role."

Romney's business acumen is referenced. The drug czar is a policy position steeped in moral implications. The guy ran as the conservative choice for President (even if someone more so ran in '12). Putting aside that he isn't some special flower as compared to anyone Obama might pick (even Bill Otis [!], e.g., respected he choice of Comey), that should cause people concern. Plus, Romney as a flip flopping politician is a red flag.

Obama is likely to pick some safe choice here. Some Rand Paul type who has various positions some in the Tea Party might support very well might be a better choice there. But, Mitt Romney? I think not. And, this "trust" is hard to take seriously.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 3, 2014 1:08:22 PM

...trust Mitt Romney to be that guy....

Ugh, I just lost my lunch....

Posted by: Randy | Jul 3, 2014 1:59:34 PM

I don't think the problem with the drug was has been having people who were incapable of comprehending all of the numbers for what they are. The main question to ask is: is Romney capable of standing up to the many special interests that would like to see the drug war go on, and would Obama be willing to support Romney in the face of all the flak he would inevitably get?

Posted by: PDB | Jul 3, 2014 8:47:29 PM

Better to take the opportunity to leave the position vacant. The statute establishing the position prohibits the drug czar from examining the feasibility of scaling back the war on drugs. In essence, the law requires the czar to sit out this "special moment for narcotics policy." If he can be no more than a spectator, then why have a drug czar at all?

Posted by: C.E. | Jul 4, 2014 12:07:06 AM

Combine a gypsie with a czar position and you get a Russian, not American kind of power broker. Roma and Russia need not intrude in American politics.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jul 6, 2014 3:14:41 PM

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