As a candidate, Bill Clinton promised to reverse the Bush administration's quasimilitary approach toward fighting illegal drugs in favor of treatment and prevention. But to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Clinton for the first time chose a policeman: Lee P. Brown, who started his career in a patrol car in San Jose, Calif., and ran the police departments in three cities, most recently New York. So maybe Clinton means to emphasize law enforcement after all, or maybe not. Brown himself, whose reputation is on the bookish side, said that he would urge a "balanced" approach of treatment, education and arrests.
The appointment of a highprofile professional such as Brown was widely regarded as a sign of Clinton's good intentions. The two previous drug czars were the contentious ideologue William Bennett and Bob Martinez, whose major qualification lay in being an out-of-work Republican governor. Jerry Spicer, head of the Hazelden drug-treatment organization, even forgave Clinton's slicing the Office of National Drug Control Policy staff budget by 60 percent, since it was offset by promoting the director to cabinet status. (The much larger operational budget for drug control actually went up slightly to $13 billion.) "What we need is leadership and a leader with access to the top," Spicer said. In Brown, they have one.