It's not exactly television, but...
The veteran sitting across the table from me looked weary after delivering yet another speech against a war that has neither a point nor, apparently, an end. It was started years ago by a Republican president, long since discredited, the veteran noted. Yet the Democrats who until a few weeks ago controlled both the White House and Congress didn't raise a finger to stop it. "I don't understand how much more money has to be wasted or how many more lives have to be ruined before we admit it's been a huge mistake,'' Kyle Vogt told me. "We can end this thing with the stroke of a pen.''
He wasn't referring to Iraq or Afghanistan, but America's truly endless war, the war on drugs. Declared 40 years ago by President Nixon, it chews up $41 billion in government spending each year while sending two million Americans to jail. Yet Nixon's goal of a drug-free America ("the final issue is not whether we will conquer drug abuse, but how soon'') seems no closer to anyone but the drug warriors themselves.
"All these years later, the people running the drug war keep promising us the same thing they have from the beginning, that they can decrease drug use,'' Vogt said. ``They just need a little more time and a little more money. Why do we listen? We wouldn't tolerate that from a physician who was treating us and not making us any better.
"And if everything your physician told you to do made your illness worse, you'd quit doing it and find another doctor.''
Vogt, who served four years as a military policeman on a Maryland army base, speaks as a veteran of the front lines of the drug war. He's one of an increasing number of former drug warriors turned doves. Their organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), includes some 4,000 people -- from beat cops through Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico -- who once played roles in enforcing drug laws. Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.