Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Smoking 'Em Out

Caught a report on CNN this morning on a matter that seems to have grave consequences for our nation. Apparently our Commander in Chief--despite repeated promises to the contrary--continues to sneak in a smoke or two during his long days at the White House. Sanjay Gupta--perhaps still bitter about not being Obama's Surgeon General--was the lead babbling busy body to weigh in on how terrible this was, both for the health of President Obama and more importantly, for efforts to get Americans to quit smoking. This renewed concern about President Obama's personal habit was brought about by the news that after his annual physical, his doctor had recommended that he quit smoking. The burning issue was addressed again yesterday when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained that President Obama was chewing nicotine gum to help stave off his cravings, but occasionally would "fall off the wagon." Gibbs would not elaborate on how many cigarettes a day President Obama was smoking or where and when he was getting his nic fix in. Appointing a special prosecutor seems to be in order to get to the bottom of this pressing matter.

Of all that things that President Obama has done or will do in the future, I can't think of too many that I have less interest in than whether he smokes or not. His smoking habit has no impact on anyone other than himself and it's none of our business whether he pounds a couple of nails each day or not. Frankly, when faced with a creaking economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a soon-to-be nuclear Iran, and a building debt/entitlement crisis I don't blame the guy for wanting to light up a heater or two. If I was in his shoes, I'd probably be chain-smoking throughout the day, at least when I was out of the public eye.

And if the President does find some solace and enjoyment in the occasional cigarette, maybe we'd all be better off if he indulged more often. Perhaps he wouldn't have come off as short and cranky at times during last week's health care summit if he'd only stepped out a few times for a smoke break during the day. Again, if I had to spend a whole day in a room full of Senators and Congressmen talking about health care, I'd be dying for a smoke too. For a guy who seems to be in excellent health overall, is it really that awful that he has what seems to be minor tobacco vice?

On a purely personal level, President Obama's stealthy smoking actually makes him more likeable to me. The fact that he's willing to commit a major Nanny State no-no and buck the tremendous societal pressure (often from his own ideological allies) to conform to the "smoking is always evil" convention is deserving of a certain amount of respect.

In the year-plus of the Age of Obama so far, there hasn't been a lot to like from the Obama White House. One thing that I have appreciated is the Obama's willingness in particular areas to conduct themselves as responsible adults and make no apologies for it. Sure, the "beer summit" was hackneyed and largely pointless, but I liked the fact that the President was willing to publicly drink a beer without worrying about the "message this was sending to children" or his need to act as some sort of perfectly abstinent role model for the country. Same thing for the Wednesday cocktail hour which the Obama's reinstated at the White House. They both send the message that adults can enjoy themselves by drinking in moderation without suffering negative consequences. That's a much more realistic role for Americans to model.

So if the President wants to fire up a heater or two after a long day spent talking with Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, I for one will not blame him. If you've got 'em sir, go ahead and smoke 'em.

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