On Thursday, during a speech, President Joe Biden gaffed and called his veep “President Harris.”
Funny, but there’s a sliver of truth in there: Vice President Kamala Harris has done a lot of the heavy lifting convincing the progressive left that Biden is all right, and few doubt there’s the significant possibility she’s at the top of the 2024 presidential ticket.
Good thing she’s not a lower-level White House staffer, else she would have disqualified herself before she even began.
As you may remember, Harris was unapologetic about the fact she’d used marijuana at least once. She told the radio program “The Breakfast Club,” when asked about her past marijuana usage in February 2019, “I have. And I inhaled. I did inhale. It was a long time ago. It was a joint.”
She laughed about her experience and seemed to endorse its use, saying, “I think that gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy,” while demurring on whether or not the drug should be made legal nationally. It’s currently legal in Washington, D.C., incidentally, as it is in 14 other states.
Yet, according to a report from The Daily Beast, young Biden staffers are getting cut from the White House roster for using pot in the past, even if it was in one of those states where it was legal.
“Dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use, frustrating staffers who were pleased by initial indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of cannabis would not be immediately disqualifying for would-be personnel, according to three people familiar with the situation,” The Beast reported on Thursday. Others were fired or put on probation.
Staffers said they’d initially been informally told by transition team members that past marijuana use would be overlooked, to a certain extent, if listed on the extensive background check necessary to work in the White House. And that still seems to be the official party line inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — yet, The Beast’s report seems to indicate there was an abrupt reversal of some sort.
“There were one-on-one calls with individual affected staffers — rather, ex-staffers,” one former staffer told the outlet. “I was asked to resign.”
The calls were led by White House Director of Management and Administration Anne Filipic, according to The Beast.
“Nothing was ever explained” to them about why they were being fired, staffers said. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained.”
As The Beast pointed out, the Biden administration has taken a lighter line on former pot usage than previous administrations have. For instance, the number of times you’ve used marijuana and can still be considered for a White House position was increased from what it was under the Barack Obama or Donald Trump administrations, and there were what The Beast called “limited exemptions” in positions that don’t require security clearances.
Employees cannot use marijuana, which is still viewed as illegal by the federal government, while they work at the White House. The actions don’t appear to be related to marijuana showing up on a random drug screen, however.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded with a tweet that linked an NBC News article from several weeks ago regarding the policy and insisted the personnel moves had only affected a handful of people.
As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) March 19, 2021
“We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House,” Psaki tweeted.
“As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”
In an additional statement to The Daily Beast, Psaki insisted “we worked in coordination with the security service to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. While we will not get into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated.”
Could it be for inconsistencies in their account of their marijuana use? Outright lying, even? Because, you know, Harris did that, too.
During that interview on “The Breakfast Club” in February 2019, Harris placed her marijuana use in college. Host Charlamagne tha God asked her, “What were you listening to when you was high? What was on? What song was on?” Another host asked if it was Snoop Dogg.
“Oh yeah, definitely Snoop,” Harris said. “Tupac [Shakur], for sure.”
This means there are one of two things wrong with this.
First, Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986 and got her law degree from the University of California, Hastings in 1989. Tupac’s first solo album, “2pacalypse Now,” was released in 1991. Snoop Dogg, then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, only began attracting attention for his work on Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” in 1992 and released his first solo album a year later.
I understand drugs can warp your sense of time, but it can’t dilate it so much that you can listen to albums that hadn’t been released yet.
Then there’s the other possibility — the fact that she wasn’t lying about listening to Snoop or Tupac while dazed and confused, but that’s even more of a problem.
While no one necessarily wants to hold a young adult’s feet to the fire for habits they’ve left behind, Harris wasn’t just any young adult. In 1990, she took a position with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, according to her bio. She stayed there until 1998, when she joined the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
In other words, if her usage wasn’t exclusively confined to college or that one joint, she was doing this while she was enforcing laws against marijuana users.
To be fair, the first scenario is significantly more likely than the latter, since Harris said other things that indicate she probably wouldn’t run any rap category on “Jeopardy.” (During the campaign, she called the aforementioned Tupac, who has been very dead for a very long time, the “best rapper alive.”) That said, Psaki’s tweeted explanation about The Daily Beast’s story brought a certain debate moment to mind.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) March 19, 2021
Again, relying exclusively on a Daily Beast story is like flying Spirit Airlines when you absolutely need to be there on time, and with all your luggage: You’re taking a risk. That said, the writers seemed fairly confident this didn’t involve cases of failed drug tests, serious dissembling or other problematic behavior, at least with the individuals they talked to.
Meanwhile, these staffers were working in a White House where the second-in-command (and, let’s face it, president-in-waiting) had used marijuana when it was illegal everywhere, wasn’t as culturally acceptable and the punishments were far more severe.
Furthermore, we know she’s lied about it publicly in some way — and while talking about having Tupac and Snoop on the stereo isn’t the same as lying about drug usage patterns on a White House job application, keep in mind a presidential campaign is arguably the longest White House job application there is.
Not that this purge will end up taking Harris, of course. However, it’s interesting to see the same double standard former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii pointed out rear its ugly head again.
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