Friday, 17 October 2008

Barack Obama, Cigarette Smoker

One of the things that has popped up in the American Presidential campaign but which hasn't managed to get much traction is the sneaky little secret that Barack Obama has.  He's a smoker.  Bafflingly, some of the conservative bloggers have picked up on this as a sign of moral deviancy.  Barack Obama's "dirty little secret" is what it's been referred to and if he's keeping this thing quiet it's because he's hiding a lot of other bigger skeletons in the closet.  If someone hides the fact that he smokes then he'd also hide much worse characteristics.  I'm a smoker.  I'm not proud of it.  It's an addiction.  It's not good for my health?  Is it going to kill me?  Perhaps.  There is a chance that i could die of lung cancer one day but I've got a lifestyle that could result in death in lots of ways ... killed on my bike, killed as a pedestrian, killed by slipping in the bath.  Its all about calculating the risk and benefit.  Smoking is dangerous.  It's also pleasurable and there are some real medical benefits such as heightened concentration and mental faculty (not always) but it's slipped from public favour.  It's still legal in every society in the world.  Most of the people I know are aware of my bad habit.  Most accept it as well.  Still, I don't push it on people even though I demand my right to do it.  I follow the rules of smoking - I don't do it in places where it's not allowed and I pay the exhorbitant taxes that are slapped onto every packet.  That gives me the right to smoke.  I think it's a good thing for a presidential candidate to have such a vice (and it's better than Palin, zing!) - it shows that he's one of us (even if he is an American) - Obama seems so cool and so unflappable - yet he shares an addiction that haunts many.  He's tried to quit but he still smokes "three Marlbouroughs a day".  He's someone who is admired by many and probably emulated by many - he knows smoking is not a desirable behaviour so of course he's not going to do it in public.  The American presidency is held up to a standard which has never been exhibited by any who have ever held the office - if this is the future president's dirty little secret then I think he's not that bad at all.

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