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Friday, December 01, 2006

Smoking with Barack Obama

I just today found out that Barack Obama is a cigarette smoker. I don't remember where I read it, but, it's an undisputed fact. I'm a little shocked. He just seems too wholesome to be a smoker.

I wonder if he smokes in the house. Or the basement. Or the car. Or the car when his kids are in the car. Do I personally care if he smokes. No.

Yes, we know he smoked marijuana. And maybe experimented with other things (I'm a little vague on just what other things.) Those things are clearly in the past and not an issue. At least not for me.

So, if he runs for president, should his smoking habit be an issue? Twenty years ago, it definitely wouldn't have been. Ten years ago, it probably wouldn't have been. Today, yeah, it probably should be.

I bet if he does run, he quits first. It just makes sense that he would, or should.

Posted by Marie at December 1, 2006 11:57 PM


If he smokes in public, it's an issue and a possible dealbreaker for me. I've never seen him do that. Smoking discreetly as he must be doing now is not that big a deal to me. I suspect you're correct in that he would quit before seeking higher office. I think he'd have to if he wanted to a be a serious candidate.

Posted by: Rob at December 2, 2006 8:58 AM

Marie, you seem to be implying that people who smoke are somehow unwholesome.

I used to smoke. I quit more than a decade ago. But during the time I did smoke, I never considered myself unwholesome. I don't consider people who smoke today unwholesome. I don't judge people on whether they smoke or not, as if they are somehow lesser human beings.

Last time I checked, a person was still allowed to choose whether or not he wants to smoke.

So no, Obama's choice to smoke should not be an issue. It's nothing personal against you or Rob, but it seems awfully petty to not vote for a politician whom you admire and whose positions you agree with simply because he chooses to smoke. What's more important: Smoking or the future of our nation?

Posted by: The Abstract Prosaic at December 2, 2006 11:30 PM

TAP, Sorry. I didn't mean to insult anyone, wholesome or unwholesome.

Okay, so whether a candidate smokes or not, you're saying we and he can be oblivious to the impact smoking has on this country, economic and healthwise. I don't have any numbers, but surely it must be something. If not, why are so many communities and states making laws banning smoking in public places.

Anyway, I didn't say I wouldn't vote for him just because he smokes.

Posted by: Marie at December 3, 2006 12:00 AM

It's not a character defect. It's an economic issue. For the country.

Posted by: Marie at December 3, 2006 12:03 AM

I really wish our society wouldn't focus on issues like this when we vote (not saying that you are, I know you are just pointing out that it's something other people will talk about) - too bad we focus on people's habits (whethers it's sexual habits or eating/drinking/smoking) rather than their ability to motivate the country and lead!

Posted by: Itzie at December 3, 2006 1:51 AM

No offense taken, Marie.

Posted by: The Abstract Prosaic at December 3, 2006 11:29 AM

I don't care if he smokes as long as he drinks plenty of red wine to maintain his long-term vitality. And I have to say I sleep easier each night with the current president and his ultra-fit lifestyle.

Everyone's got someone on their own personal "they smoked and died" list. My mom's dad and three of her brothers were all heavy smokers and died of lung cancer (Mom and Dad were heavy smokers, too: She died of something else, and he survives, with permanent lung damage). I have a life-long respiratory condition, severe asthma, which was at least made much worse by inhaling clouds of second-hand smoke when no one knew any better and which is controlled at this point by daily medication. So, the impact of smoking is personal and real.

At the same time, I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of making my voting choices based on whether someone smokes or not, or perhaps on any personal habit or preference. I mean, does it really say anything about anyone's character or intellect or ability or judgment that they smoke or that they don't (sooner or later, someone here is going to point out that Hitler was a non-smoker)? Does it make any difference whether he's a pack-a-day man or just sneaks a few every once in a while?

But let's say it does matter that he's a smoker--that he's failing his responsibility to be a model of rational control and to demonstrate that disciplined pursuit of good health is important to the nation. Into what other areas of personal behavior do you extend your scrutiny? How often does he chow down at Mickey D's? Does he like gangsta rap and TV and movie violence? Does he take the elevator when he could take the stairs? Does he ever get depressed or anxious? Does he speed when he drives? Does he fecklessly run up credit-card bills and pay high interest rates? I only ask because each of those activities is one that gets lots of press for its inherent unwholesome-/unhealthy-/unwiseness, and each is said to carry a big economic or social cost. But it doesn't seem to be a healthy, wise way to assess who's fit to represent me and who isn't.

Posted by: Dan at December 3, 2006 11:48 AM

I'm an ex-smoker, too, TAP. I'm not an anti-smoker and I'm not a crusader for that cause. His public smoking, the only form of public official smoking I take issue with, would be a distraction. It would be the story. It would be something the public and the media couldn't get past. I'm a pragmatist, not a prude. The pragmatist in me also say Obama is a long shot at best.

Posted by: Rob at December 3, 2006 2:06 PM

Who gives a crap if he smokes? Find a real reason to support/not support him.

Posted by: Soonerthought at December 4, 2006 3:37 PM

Soonerthought, absolutely. We're getting there. Well, I am.

Posted by: Marie at December 4, 2006 6:39 PM

Hitler was a non-smoker...and a vegan who supposedly hated the sight of blood. Franklin Roosevelt famously brandished a cigarette(with holder)in many a photo and op-ed cartoon. Stalin was a big smoker and Churchill...well, you know the rest. Anybody know Tojo's preference? There you have it, smoking--and meat eating--won WWII for the Allies.

Posted by: jb at December 5, 2006 8:42 PM

Let Barak enjoy his vice, even if it is a bit nasty.

Posted by: jb at December 5, 2006 8:44 PM

A presidential campaign probably isn't the ideal time to suffer from nicotine withdrawal. Obama doesn't want to be cranky in front of the League of Women Voters, they'll have him for lunch.

His being a smoker wouldn't keep me from voting for him if I decide he's the best candidate. But smoking is such a pointless, harmful, and nasty habit that it does knock him down a notch in my estimation.

Dan at BlogFreeSpringfield

Posted by: Dan at December 6, 2006 8:08 PM

Wow. Have I gotten old? Have we gotten so far up on this moral ground perch? I cannot believe this conversation. Thank goodness he smokes. He's human. Not lily white and pure and such. A real human being. Oh me oh my ... heaven help us all.

Posted by: tamarika at December 7, 2006 5:00 AM