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Do As I Say

On May 14, 1970, Mitch Daniels, now the governor of Indiana and a GOP presidential hopeful in 2012 and 2016, then a student at Princeton University, was arrested, along with two roommates, for having enough marijuana in his dorm room to fill two shoe boxes. The three were also arrested for having LSD and prescription drugs without a prescription.

Daniels’ punishment? A $350 fine for a plea to “maintaining a common nuisance.”

Would that I could get that kind of deal for a client in 2011!

Why is a drug case from forty years ago news, even one involving a politician?

Daniels is most recently in the news for profile in today’s Daily Princetonian that looks into those charges, and their lack of impact on Daniels’ political career. Daniels is also an advocate for the kind of strict drug laws that end college careers every day, often with far less than two shoe boxes of pot.

That’s what makes this news.

Unless he has changed his position on the issue since 1989, he is

in favor of laws that would absolutely destroy the career of anybody caught in 1989 (or today) doing what Daniels was caught doing. A couple of hundred thousand students have lost their financial aid, in many cases meaning they had to drop out of college, because of a conviction for possession or sale of drugs. If Daniels were in college today, and thus had actually served time as a convicted drug dealer, not only would he have no political future, he wouldn’t have much of a future at all.

I don’t mind a little mild hypocrisy, but I do like my politicians to own up to their faults. I’ll be curious to see if Daniels does so when he inevitably announces his candidacy for 2012 or 2016.