When we first learned of Sarah Palin, I noted, in passing, that she’d tried marijuana and said she didn’t like it. Bill Clinton, of course, famously told us that he hadn’t inhaled when he smoked up. Barack Obama’s also admitted to a doobie or two in his salad days, and even George Bush has some puffing in his past.
We’ve arrived at a time, over the last 15 years, where the people we’re calling on to run things grew up in generations that simply did that. I think of my high school and college classmates — doctors, professional photographers, small-business owners, bank managers, police officers, scientists, lawyers, actors, ministers, military personnel... yes, there are some of all of those in the mix — and I know that most of them smoked weed at one time or another, some once or twice, some occasionally, some regularly and often.
Now, they and others a bit older and a bit younger, folks in their 40s and 50s, are the ones who are out there as community leaders. And, you know, I almost feel that I’d trust them less if they hadn’t been part of it, back in the day.
True to that, we seem to be worrying less about minor drug use, though there’s still some criticism to be heard. There might be something to worry about if one is still getting stoned in the office, right before a big meeting with customers, or union leaders, or whatever. Otherwise, what we did 20 years ago shouldn’t matter, and doesn’t seem to. Who knows?: maybe we’ll eventually be able to see that keeping weed illegal is just silly.
We’ve also seen our first wave of presidents and candidates who haven’t served in the military, and who, in fact, went out of their way to dodge it — again, just as many in my generation did during the Vietnam years. Bill Clinton left the country, and participated in anti-war protests; George Bush got an appointment in the National Guard and then ducked out of that; John Kerry did serve, and then protested the war when he came back; Barack Obama hasn’t served nor been called to. We need to accept that that, too, is a common situation with the new generations of our country’s leaders.
And now I think, as I read more about the level of connectedness and information sharing that’s common today, what political campaigns will be like 20 years from now. How will politicians of that day deal with the resurfacing of old Facebook profiles and Twitter logs? Will proudly calling oneself a “[obscene gerund] redneck” at 18 be a political liability at 48? When there’s a dense and detailed Twitter record of one’s daily comings and goings, moods and thoughts, what will happen to one’s public face?
Perhaps it will just be so much information that it will equalize everyone. Maybe if no one can be completely clean, we’ll stop worrying about the smudges.
Roll another one
Just like the other one
You’ve been holding on to it
And I sure would like a hit
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me
[The title phrase is an anagram of “tetrahydrocannabinol”.]