Stoners for Obama: Conservatives, Marijuana Activists Blast "Harold and Kumar" Video
|Yeah well, that makes you a fuckin' hypocriticizer too|
Neither, clearly. The portrayal of George W. Bush as an "Alabama Kush"-puffing commander in chief in Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay is hands-down the most enjoyable POTUS our imagination can muster (not to mention the finest parody of an American president since Dana Carvey's spot-on George Herbert Walker Bush).
Team Obama is still eager to tap whatever cultural zeitgeist the the neo-stoner films channeled. Actor Kal Penn, the film's Kumar, has had an off-again, on-again role at the White House as a "director in the Office of Public Engagement." And he and Harold and Kumar co-star John Cho are in a video released last night to coincide with the opening of the Democratic National Convention, in which the two take a call from President Obama in between mouthfuls of munchies.
A decade-old, played-out cultural reference? Absolutely perfect for politics. And perfect for setting off an Internet firestorm. Both the left and the right are blasting Obama and Penn as hypocrites for appearing stoner-friendly while the federal government ramps up its anti-marijuana policy.
Cannabis advocates and right-wingers alike pounced on the video as emblematic of the Obama campaign's craven hypocrisy. Right-wing Newsbusters.org challenged Penn to ask Obama the same question Kumar asked a stoned W. in the film: "So you get high and then you put other people who smoke weed in jail? That's so hypocritical." And Morgan Fox, executive director of pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, complained that "the fact Obama uses these characters to joke about this issue while on the other hand continuing to arrest people he's appealing to is really disingenuous."
In terms of the "stoner vote," there is indeed such a thing to court, at least in this cycle. In November, marijuana-legalization measures go to the ballot in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado -- all of which, save the latter, are stone-cold locks for the Democrats. Colorado did go blue in 2008; however, with sizable Latino, military, and small-government contingents, its nine electoral votes are up for grabs. Will the drive to legalize or the prohibitionist backlash push more people to the polls? Right now, it appears the Obama campaign is betting on the stoners -- though how that will help Obama in battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, we're less sure.
As for which party is pot-friendlier? That's hard to say. Under Obama, marijuana plant seizures and closures of medical marijuana dispensaries have hit record highs; this trend has been well-documented on the virtual and print pages of this newspaper. And two of medical marijuana's finest champions in Congress, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, are both members of the GOP.
That said, judging by campaign materials, the only true cannabis-friendly presidential candidates are Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, both of whom have directly called for an end to the War on Drugs. And we seriously doubt Romney -- who told New Hampshire voters in January that he'd fight medical cannabis "tooth and nail" -- would be welcome with the likes of Harold and Kumar if elected president.
Recall the rumor in July that Obama is waiting to be reelected to radically change the country's approach to drugs. Maybe this video is a harbinger of radical change? Or maybe it is what it is: overworked campaign staffs who haven't been to the movies in six years reaching for what's most easily accessible. Warmed-over cultural references, co-opted 20-year-old stadium anthems, and an ancient cultural icon rambling at an empty, swearing chair. That, folks, is politics in America in 2012.