Obama is Smokin'

Last August, I ran into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol.This was before the Obama surge, before he had omnipresent Secret Service agents, back when you might see him strolling solo.We chatted for a second, mainly about the Pakistan speech he'd recently given and about how the media had covered it. He was in good spirits.As any close friend or family member can attest, I have an unusually keen sense of smell and immediately I smelled cigarette smoke on Obama. Frankly, he reeked of cigarettes.Obama ran off before I could ask him if he'd just snuck a smoke, so I called his campaign.They denied it. He'd quit months before, in February,  they insisted. He chewed nicorette.But I knew what I'd smelled and I asked his campaign to double-check and to ask him if he'd had a cigarette.They reported back that he had told them he hadn't had a cigarette since he quit.And maybe that was true. Maybe I imagined the cigarette smoke. My olfactory nerve somehow misfired.Except….last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Obama admitted that his attempt to wean himself from the vile tobacco weed had not been entirely successful.“I fell off the wagon a couple times during the course of it, and then was able to get back on," he said. "But it is a struggle like everything else.”Now I wonder about last August.It's not a big deal in the scheme of things -- the war on Iraq, a major economic crisis -- indeed, it's miniscule. Hardly worth mentioning.Except that I don't like feeling that I wasn't being dealt with honestly. And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we're confident is the right one. (Corny, I know.)This isn't the only time I've felt that way about the Obama campaign, of course -- its response to the Austan Goolsbee controversy was a profile in dissembling. (Not that Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain or their campaigns are entirely innocent in this area either. Or even that Obama is necessarily the worst offender.)Still. - jpt

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