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You say Opioid Czar, I say Grim Reaper, let’s call the whole thing off

Human Death Rictus Kellyanne Conway has been picked to head the White House’s “efforts” at fighting the opioid epidemic, proving exactly how seriously the Trump administration considers this public health emergency. Conway, a pollster and campaign adviser by profession, has exactly zero experience in public health policy, but that’s probably not going to be a problem for her, since there’s little evidence that the administration intends to treat the opioid crisis as a public health problem anyway.

Instead, Donald Trump has already made it clear that the best answer to the opioid problem is not more money for treatment or for anti-overdose medications, but rather, simply to tell kids to say no to drugs, even more loudly to say no to drugs:

The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: No good, really bad for you in every way. But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.

So if it’s a PR campaign you want, instead of a public health effort, then that’s right in Kellyanne Conway’s wheelhouse. Here’s a sample of her ability to use vivid imagery to illustrate the scope of the problem, and then explain why that huge problem can be solved without spending a single additional dollar, as she explained to George Stephanopoulos in June:

 

Stephanopoulos threw some nonsense at her about liberal Democrats Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and their liberal Democrat blah-blah-blah about how cutting Medicaid would actually hurt opioid recovery treatment, and Conway just made those liberal Democrat talking points go away for good:

Conway: George, I would point out that President Obama, through ObamaCare and elsewise, poured money into crises like this and where are we?

You can fill up every seat in Yankee Stadium and that accounts for the number of people who died of drug addiction in this country just last year. Thirty-three thousand of whom opioid-related. It’s a gateway to heroin use, fentanyl, carfentanil. It’s all a big problems.

And so pouring money into the problem is not the only answer. We have to get serious about in-facility treatment and recovery.

Stephanopoulos: That takes money, Kellyanne.

Conway: It takes money and it also takes a four letter word called will.

Now, obviously, Donald Trump has made it clear there will be no money, so we’re gonna go with “will,” and that means Kellyanne Conway doesn’t need to know anything about public health. She knows all about will. She even willed the concept of Alternative Facts into being, so don’t you go doubting her ability to make opioids go away without spending any money on “treatment.” Just STOP DOING DRUGS, YOU DRUG DOERS! And if people don’t listen and keep doing opioids, well then, Kellyanne Conway has a metaphorical seat for them at Yankee Stadium.

While Conway will be leading the White House’s very important Just Say No-ing on opioids, it’s not clear whether that means she’ll be devoting all her time to that, or still going on TV to lie about other subjects with every single movement of her mouth.

And just to be clear, Conway is only “working” on opioids, not drug policy in general. In October, Tom Marino, Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s “drug czar” — or as boring people call the job, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — pulled out of contention for the position after it was revealed he’d pushed legislation that would have made it harder for the DEA to restrict opioid sales by suspicious pharmacies. Trump hasn’t bothered naming anyone new to that position yet.

Maybe Mick Mulvaney could do it. He’s certainly not going to be very busy in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, apart from telling everyone to do absolutely nothing, so he could probably manage drug policy, too. And Jared could help do for drug policy what he’s already done for Mideast peace.

How hard can it be to digitally add some more recent clothes to the gal from that “This is your brain on drugs” ad they already have in the vault?

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[Mother Jones]

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