The Plank

The Ballad Of Kurt Schmoke

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Kurt Schmoke, the former Mayor of Baltimore and the current Dean of Howard Law School, has a smart article on our website explaining the insanity of the punitive nature of our national drug control policy and urging the next president (who Schmoke hopes will be Barack Obama) to make a large federal investment in drug courts--which would be a significant first step toward more treatment-minded reform.  

It's good to see that Schmoke is still pressing this issue. He's one of the most impressive, honest, and, in a way, tragic political figures I've ever encountered. Back in 1998, when I was a wee intern at TNR, I did this profile of Schmoke as he was on the downside of his political career. Once thought of as a black politician with the sort of biracial appeal that might earn him a sport on a Democratic presidential ticket, when I met Schmoke he had been written off by the political establishment as a big-city black mayor who'd never hold elected office outside of Baltimore. At the time, Schmoke's story demonstrated the impossibility of building a biracial political coalition, because if Schmoke--an Ivy League-educated former prosecutor who'd been groomed for success by Baltimore's white political establishment since the age of 14--couldn't do it, then nobody could.

Of course, Barack Obama now appears on the verge of doing just that, so the Schmoke story makes for interesting reading today, if only to see how much has changed in 10 years. And, if you're a Wire fan, you can discover the origins of Mayor Royce's "Makes Us Proud" slogan.

--Jason Zengerle

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