Esquire: Will Obama legalize it?

I’m guessing no. But as with gay marriage, he’s sent enough mixed signals on the subject that his disciples can plausibly tell themselves that he secretly agrees with them and is prepared to act on it when the time is right, but has to lie low for just a bit longer until he’s in a better position politically.

Some of Obama’s biggest financial donors are friends of the legalization movement, St. Pierre notes. “Frankly, George Soros, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling — this triumvirate of billionaires — if those three men, who put up $50 to $60 million to get Democrats and Obama elected, can’t pick up the phone and actually get a one-to-one meeting on where this drug policy is going, then maybe it’s true that when you give money, you don’t expect favors.”…

“I’m hoping that what the administration will do,” [Obama bundler Marsha Rosenbaum] says, “is something this country hasn’t done since 1971, which is to undertake a presidential commission to look at drug policy, convene a group of blue-ribbon experts to look at the issue, and make recommendations.”

But ultimately, Rosenbaum remains confident that those recommendations would call for an end to the drug war. “Once everything settles down in the second term, we have a shot at seeing some real reform.”

I hope it happens, mainly because if Obama’s feeling confident enough to risk this sort of culture war in his second term, it would mean he’d have been so fantastically successful in fixing the economy and detoxifying Pakistan and Iran, among other things, that he had political capital to burn. He had no appetite for the issue during the campaign: When the Washington Times uncovered video in January of him telling an audience in 2004 that he wanted to decriminalize pot, his spokesman turned on a dime and said he wouldn’t support eliminating penalties (but might reconsider jail for first-time offenders). In fact, NORML looked at the odds of an administration rethink on weed just a few weeks ago and found it unlikely given that The One’s surrounded by drug warriors, Biden and Rahm Emanuel most prominently among them. The only way I can imagine them doing it is if Obama moved so far to the center or center-right — perhaps due to foreign-policy exigencies — that he simply had to give the left something to get them off his back. Although that raises the question of under what circumstances he’d ever have to worry about placating the left. They’re not going to hand the White House back to the GOP in 2012, and with all the spending he’ll be doing, they’ll have plenty to keep them happy. Then again, never underestimate the pecular priorities of Obama cultists.