The Authentic Cruelty of a Synthetic Man

Recently by William Norman Grigg: ‘Why Did Police Kill My Dad?’

Mitt Romney, a polymer-based life form of nearly limitless pliability, is as long on cash as he is short on genuine convictions. For the Power Elite’s political brokers, few traits are more endearing in a potential president than malleability. Romney’s suppleness of spine helps explain how he was able to soak up $10 million in promised campaign donations from politically connected oligarchs during a day-long marathon fundraiser in Las Vegas.

Seeking an issue on which Romney takes a binding, definitive stand often seems like trying to overtake the horizon. Clayton Holden, a wheelchair-bound man and long-time medical marijuana patient, may be the only person who has ever seen Romney perform a plausible impression of Martin Luther ("Here I stand, I can do no other”) regarding any subject.

Holden suffers from Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, an affliction that has left him with a twisted spine, inflamed nerve bundles, and unremitting chronic pain. When Holden was 16, his suffering was compounded when he was hit by a car while crossing the street in his wheelchair.

Like many others who suffer from debilitating pain, Holden has found that marijuana offers him relief while inflicting none of the side-effects that accompany many government-approved drugs. On at least ten occasions, Holden has been confronted by police, who – to their credit – have been willing to flout what they are required to call "the law" in favor of elemental decency. It's only a matter of time before some armed functionary will be found who is sufficiently vicious to throw Holden in a cage. That's the outcome that Mitt Romney would favor.

During an October 7, 2007 Republican presidential forum in New Hampshire, Holden politely but forcefully confronted Romney to ask him the same question he had posed to other candidates (only one of whom – no extra credit for guessing which one – actually gave him an unequivocal answer): Since Holden has to use marijuana to treat his affliction, would Romney be willing to see him and his doctors arrested and carried off to jail?

Romney, as is his habit, tried to take refuge in persiflage, insisting – on the basis of what qualifications, he didn't say – that synthetic marijuana would work just as well. He then sought to ooze his way out of the question by quipping that he doesn't "arrest anyone.”

The most remarkable aspect of Romney's encounter with Holden is that he displayed none of his characteristic equivocation in defending drug prohibition. He yielded not so much as a millimeter in his insistence that medical marijuana is a “gateway drug”; this means that Holden and other patients who use it either have to settle for useless or harmful government-approved treatments or endure the punitive wrath of the divine State. The Mittster didn’t even seek to palliate the feelings of this powerless, suffering individual by deploying a sympathetic platitude.