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old news, but something I wanted to say

I am no prude. In fact, I have been known (not recently, but in my teens and early 20s) to have a cigarette from time to time. It's still legal to smoke, so while I don't really like the smell or what it does to surrounding lungs I don't really care if people smoke or not. If that person lives with me or is close working-promximity to me, then I might have something more to say.

It's no secret that the media loves Obama - perhaps rightfully so. However, if ANY OTHER candidate/president-elect were caught with a 20-year smoking habit, especially if that person were of the conservative variety, we would not see such a forgiving public. Scoff is you must, but you know it's true. I see blog after blog and comment after comment saying "oh, who cares if he has a smoke?" You know what? That's crap. Because if the cigarette were at the fingertips of another more conservative hand, we would never hear the end about the evils of smoking. We would not see such a forgiving public.

Hypocrisy aside, I worry what having a president who enjoys even just an occasional smoke, will actually cause smoking to increase in the US. "If the president does it, then..." or "If the president falls off the wagon, then there's no chance for me..." I can actually see the tobacco companies wringing their hands in sinister delight.

I don't usually make my political viewpoints known, but I voted for Obama. In my opinion he was the lesser of two evils. I say that, because I want you to be clear that I am not writing this as part of a post-election grudge. There is nothing wrong with loving Obama (except for you, Obama Girl). But I think it's dangerous to put on your rose-colored glasses and say all is well in fairyland, simply because it's Obama who will take office. I hope that we continue to think it's normal to question our leaders and the impact they have on our country and on the world.


At 12/16/2008 4:58 PM, Blogger Mikey G Left a note...

I've never heard anyone criticize a president for smoking. I heard a blip for half a second giving Gov. Schwartzinigger a finger wag for having a smoking tent at the Gov. mansion but even in Cali it didn't have traction.
I also voted for Sen. Obama but considered him the superior of two evils not the lesser. :)

At 12/16/2008 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Disclaimer: I'm one of those bloggers -- one who just lost a parent to lung cancer -- writing that I just don't care about Obama's smoking habit.

I also love you to pieces, but I think you're missing the point -- mine and, I assume, others'.

I don't think it helps your case to say that a more conservative president-elect would face more criticism for a nasty and harmful but -- as you say -- still legal and personal habit. First of all, plenty of Republican legislators smoke, and none of them have been lynched. ;)

Secondly, Obama was elected in the closest we've seen to a landslide in our generation. It is not whether he is a liberal or a Democrat that wins him positive media coverage, but that he is soaring into office with an approval rating the current administration couldn't hope to achieve without another terrorist attack to respond to. He gets positive coverage because a smoking habit, when weighed against the level-headed policies and overwhelming ability he's bringing to Washington, doesn't matter. Not one bit. He is the news, and that news, especially in the face of financial collapse and continuing Middle Eastern wars, is positive.

I find it hypocritical to expect the incoming president to be above the personal choices of any human being. When people said "I could have a beer with that guy" about Bush, it increased his appeal as the "every man." Sarah Palin resonated with Republican voters and women of a certain age and lifestyle because she was "like them." My problem with this rationale is that neither of them had any other qualities recommending them to the most powerful job on the planet. As long as Obama brings his game and gets us out of the mess we're in, I don't give a damn if he smokes a pack a day in a hidden corner of the South Lawn. It will not -- will absolutely NOT -- affect his ability to govern.

Eight years from now, I care more that his legacy includes "stabilized relations between hostile nations," "raised the net worth of the average American," and "put a chicken in every pot" rather than "maintained the honor and the dignity of his office."

So, yes, we should continue to question our leaders and hold them accountable for the decisions that affect our nation and the global community. We should absolutely measure Obama against his predecessors and, what's more, against the lofty goals he has set for himself. To focus on whether he smokes and how much is a red herring that will NOT help pull us out of the asinine political clusterfuck we've been in since the 2000 election.

And, if you view Obama as the "lesser of two evils," I would suggest you are more likely to look for something to pounce on that supports that belief. Let the man prove himself...and please base your metrics on job performance, not the number of smoke breaks.


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