11/01/09 Why Should it Matter if Obama Smokes?

Today I came across a shocking and disheartening article on the Guardian website. [1]  In this article the author makes some startling assumptions about Obama’s smoking habit as well as claiming Americans should make a fuss that he smokes.

The author, Joe Queenan, is clearly a non-smoker, but more importantly why does it matter that Obama smokers?  He is a grown man and his personal lifestyles choices do not, and should not, have any relation on his ability to do his job.  Queenan says the following:

“Obama purports to have slashed his nicotine consumption to three cigarettes a day, and insists that he is trying to give up smoking for good…Anyway, nobody who has ever been a cigarette smoker really believes that it is possible to get by on three or four cigarettes a day. You either smoke none or you smoke 20. There is no middle ground.”

What utter ignorance. I know plenty of smokers who smoke less than 20 a day, and there are plenty who smoke 3 a day.  There is plenty of ‘middle ground’, as he puts it.

“My own suspicion is that Obama probably smokes a couple of packs a day but hides it from his family. Indeed, the reason he is able to project such an image of coolness and unflappability is because every time someone says the wrong thing to him he ducks out to have a smoke.”

I am flabbergasted at this.  What makes him think Obama smokes 40 a day?  And he does not say he believes the reason Obama projects an image of coolness is because he smokes, but outright states it is because he smokes.  Wow.  Now, how exactly can someone hide 40 cigarettes a day from his family?  A 40 a day habit is chain smoking, and unless Obama lives outside or, if he has one, in his smoking room, it is impossible to hide how much he smokes from his family.  I assume it has not occured to Queenan that Obama may not want to smoke many a day, or perhaps it is the support from his family that helps him smoke so little.  Besides, wth America’s stringest smoking ban and his busy schedule I suspect Obama has very little time to duck out for frequent cigarettes.

I am personally disgusted with Queenan’s ‘journalism’.  He is either very petty and ignorant or just ran out of stories to report on.  He does not know Obama and consequentially does not have the right to make assumptions on his lifestyle.  But, most importantly, it is none of his business what Obama does in his free time – we’re not talking about a heroin addict, we’re talkng about someone who enjoys a tobacco product, and so what?  Even if we believe Obama will be struck by lung cancer, the average age is still 68 so his smoking will not, in any way, affect his ability to be president.  And that is what matters most – how well Obama can do his job.  This man came from seemingly nowhere, rose to the top of his party and won the American people over.  People are confident he can do his job well, and that is all that matters.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/18/smoking-barack-obama

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