A couple of weeks ago, veteran presidential biographer David Maraniss, whose book about “Bubba” Clinton, First In His Class, is considered the finest recount of the life of young Bubba, published his new book about the mysterious young life of the 44th President of the United States titled Barack Obama: The Story.
According to Maraniss:
A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”
…As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.
…Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.
…When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,” explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.
…[Choom Gang member] Mark Bendix’s Volkswagen bus, also known as the Choomwagon. … The other members considered Mark Bendix the glue, he was funny, creative, and uninhibited, with a penchant for Marvel Comics. He also had that VW bus and a house with a pool, a bong, and a Nerf basketball, all enticements for them to slip off midday for a few unauthorized hours of recreation…
…Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.
Fast Forward to 2012. Could the former Barry Soetoro be plotting another “interception”? Because if he tries to do what this writer is surreptitiously suggesting he might, ol’ Scooter must still be chooming:
Elspeth Reeve reports for theatlanticwire.com that
In 2004 George W. Bush’s re-election campaign worked to put anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives up for vote in several swing states in order to turn out more hard-core conservatives to the polls. This year the question is whether marijuana legalization measures will turn out young voters for Obama.
Bush’s plan to use gay marriage bans — in states that did not actually allow gay marriage — as a turnout booster led to signs featuring icky public restroom symbols proliferated and liberal panic that the Christian right had taken over. The press obsessed over “values voters.” One of Bush’s aides, Ken Mehlman, who later came out as gay himself, has apologized for the strategy, two others say it didn’t work.
This year there’s another incumbent president with modest approval ratings who could turn out his base with controversial ballot measures. But this time, the issue features no biblical or scatological imagery. In 2012, voters in swing states will decide whether they’ll allow their fellow citizens to bear joints. Unlike the gay marriage votes, there’s no indication that Obama’s re-election team is behind any of the pot legalization initiatives, but there are Democrats who are hoping that it will boost turnout among weed’s biggest fans: young people.
Getting more young people to vote has long been a Democratic fantasy, since they tend to vote so heavily Democratic. But past attempts to bong the vote have been disappointing, in part because stoners aren’t the group anyone would most count on to bother filling out a ballot. Ahead of the 2010 midterms, The Wall Street Journal ran the story, “Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012,” noting that California’s pot-legalizing Proposition 19 was being studied to see if similar measures “could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.” But exit polls that year showed no spike in young voter turnout, and marijuana legalization was the top issue for just 1 in 10 voters, the Los Angeles Times reported. (Also: Californians ended up voting down Prop. 19.) Still, there were hopeful signs: 64 percent of voters 18-to-24 supported it, and 52 percent of voters 25-to-29 did. In March, the pro-legalization site Just Say Now suggested that the presidential election will draw more young people to the polls, and they’ll vote for pot legalization while they’re there.
That being said, several have argued that this could be the year for pro-marijuana turnout. After all, 2011 was the first year more young people smoked pot than cigarettes, the CDC says. There is a marijuana initiative on the ballot in Washington, and there might be one in Nebraska and Massachusetts, but those states are pretty solid for one party or the other.
I wouldn’t put it past Obama to support legalization in a last ditch effort to avoid a political massacre.
Why do you think they call it DOPE?