A reader speculates:
I don't know if it's occurred to you that the president is raising two teenaged daughters. As the mother of a teenaged daughter myself, it's very, very difficult to discuss pot use with them. Weed is the new cigarettes for this age group. It's really hard to say, "Yes, it's harmless, mostly, and I did it a lot in the '70s, but YOU CAN'T." I think President Obama may be more silent on this issue because of what he's teaching at home. It would be very hard to tell his girls, "Absolutely not!" when publicly you're all for it.
But in Colorado and Washington, the point is that the voters are all for it except for kids. A parent can now say to her kids: you have to wait till you're older to do that, because doing it now will harm your development. And if you buy or possess it as a minor, you are still a criminal, as with alcohol. So Obama has a perfect out: "I was a hardcore stoner … but it's illegal until you're 18 or 21. If you promise me you won't try and get some illegally, we can all buy some legally when you're adults and I can help you navigate marijuana just as parents help kids navigate alcohol." Another reader:
That old footage you showed of Obama speaking in favor of decriminalization in 2004 reminded me of one of the wierdest Obama videos I've ever seen. It's from the summer of 2007 when he was running for president and in it someone on a rope line in New Hampshire asked what his stance was regarding medical marijuana.
You can tell right away from Obama's body language that he really doesn't want to answer this question, presumably because he thinks it's a political landmine. Then the oddest thing happens, and I had to watch it a few times to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. You can see Reggie Love in the background apparently listening to an earpiece, which I'm assuming must be radioed directly to somebody like Gibbs or Axelrod or some other adviser. Reggie hears something in the earpiece and suddenly has to get Obama's attention in the middle of this guy's question and not-so-smoothly transfers the ear piece to Obama, who then pauses, and after a few beats apparently parrots back the stock answer coming to him in his ear.
Obama's response was that the Feds cracking down on state medical marijuana operations wouldn't be a worthwhile use of federal resources. But never mind the answer, which didn't seem like his own. To me, it was one of those rare times where you see the politically calculated side rather than the casual authenticity that usually comes across in him, and the sense I got was that whatever Obama's actual position on marijuana is, he's not about to let that be the issue that he wastes political capital on. That's not going to be the issue that prevents him from becoming president and fixing everything else that he cares more about.
As a big Obama supporter back in the summer of '07, I wouldn't have dared point out this video before Obama won the Democratic primaries, the election in 2008, or the recent reelection, but now that we're on the other side of all three, I couldn't help but pass along the footage.
Above is some footage closer to the real Obama.