Since November 6, President Obama has had little time to savor his electoral victory. The White House is in the throes of dealing with, among other issues, the aftershocks of Benghazi, the David Petraeus resignation, and the looming plunge off the fiscal cliff.
While it may be too early to speculate whether Obama II will sideline Latin America, the first indications emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are not overly reassuring.
While it is still not official, it appears Obama II will retain Attorney General Eric Holder. Neither the House of Representatives—which cited Holder for contempt of Congress in June—nor Mexico, nor the victims of Operation Fast and Furious can take solace in Holder’s retention.
The President and Holder are also being credited with helping smooth the way for passage of amendments approving recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington by inaction.
As noted in the Los Angeles Times:
“We were holding our breath for the entire month of October,” said Alison Holcomb, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney and one of the architects behind Washington state’s legalization effort. “We were looking at exactly the dates that [Holder] had weighed in on Prop. 19 [a failed 2010 California amendment to legalize marijuana sales] in the last election.…”
But this year the dates came and went, and Holder stayed silent about the initiatives, which openly conflict with federal law. Some speculated that the Obama administration, facing a tough presidential battle, opted not to risk alienating the youth vote.
Asked editorialist Dan Turner, “[W]hy was Obama silent on marijuana during his campaign and disengaged from the issue during his first four years in office? Counting up the electoral votes from the 26 states that have loosened marijuana laws, it comes to 271—one more than the number needed to elect a president.”
Whither the U.S., then? Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other Latin American leaders asked if the U.S. has lost its “moral authority” on the drug issue. Others found the lack of clear messaging from the Administration disheartening.
With inauguration day nearly two months off, Obama II is already working from a hole when it comes to Latin America.