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Tilting at Windmills

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July 11, 2009

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S BOREDOM (REDUX).... Conducting a national poll isn't cheap. Why CNN put this one in the field is a mystery.

Most Americans say that President Barack Obama's struggle to quit smoking doesn't change their views of him, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that only a third say that they would like to see Obama give up cigarettes completely.

"Obama has admitted that he still smokes on occasion, but nearly nine in 10 Americans say that doesn't affect their view of him and only 12 percent think that indicates something negative about Obama himself," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Eighty-five percent believe that shows how hard it is to quit cigarettes."

This shouldn't surprise anyone. The president has a personal vice, which affects no one but him, and which he's trying to overcome. No one really cares.

No one, that is, but national news outlets, which seem to have a certain preoccupation with the issue -- including a question at the last presidential press conference, which in turn generated a whole new round of stories on the subject. Now, CNN is even polling on the "story."

Does the president's occasional cigarette and difficulty in kicking the habit really deserve this much attention?

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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I know I should be embarrassed to even comment on this one BUT what I'd like to see is a list of ALL FOLKS in our government and media that are captured by this digusting habit!

Posted by: Dancer on July 11, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Does it deserve that much attention? No. But it is a really handy substitute for actual reporting.

Posted by: Tomm on July 11, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer, I'd rather see a list of all the folks in our government and media who DRINK TO EXCESS. The smoking doesn't bother me - and I'm an ex-smoker - but excess drinking does.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on July 11, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it's what they do. Look at the constant attention they paid to George W. Bush's drinking. Did a single week go by in the entire eight years that the Times, the Post, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC didn't all run stories on his alcohol consumption?

Posted by: Fleas correc the era on July 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The president has a personal vice, which affects no one but him, ...

This has to be qualified, or else to be logically consistent you will have to oppose all anti-smoking laws.

Posted by: gregor on July 11, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I hear ya about the WHO DRINKS list...but think WHO DOESN'T would be shorter and I feel pretty confident about discerning who DOES by their behaviors in "governing" us...for me the WHO SMOKES list is more to put a lid on yet another hypocrisy!!!

Posted by: Dancer on July 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Affects no one but him? Smoking greatly increases his likelihood for heart disease and cancer. As the president of the US, his health is fairly important. Even if he wasn't president, and just some average schmo, his smoke puts the people around him at higher risk of disease. And smoking increases the costs of health care in the US astronomically. Smoking is never just a personal vice.

Posted by: lisagoak on July 11, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

the way in which the story would merit the coverage would be if he was successful in quitting, and could then provide inspiration for others who are struggling to do so -- which, ironically, is when the networks would be least likely to give it coverage.

Posted by: zeitgeist on July 11, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

If I were a non-smoking Obama, I would take up smoking just to have a common-man's vice.

There's such a thing as being too perfect.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on July 11, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

If he had passed himself off as one who had completely quit, had been holier-than-thou about it, and then had been caught smoking, there would be a story. Instead, he acknowldges that it isn't easy to quit. Keep trying, sir.

Posted by: DJ on July 11, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

It bothers me that there is so much hypocrisy concerning smoking v. drinking. I have said this many times, but I go out with my best friend once a month or so. When we get together, I have one drink and smoke three to five cigarettes. During the rest of my life, nada. Yet, while the former is acceptable (and even encouraged. Indeed, I am looked down upon as a lightweight) by the mainstream, the latter is looked at in horror.

My own doctor told me that smoking one cigarette a day (which was the most I ever smoked) didn't matter. I asked her why this wasn't more commonly known, and she said she couldn't tell people that because then they would go smoke a whole pack a day.

So, if the president smokes a cigarette a week or so, who cares?

In addition, if we are going to be so strident about smoking, then we should be just as strident about drinking and fast food eating, both which cost us astronomically in healthcare bills, too--not to mention the dangers of drinking and driving. Do I actually advocate that? No. I just get mad when one vice (smoking) gets isolated as the worst vice in the world.

Posted by: asiangrrlMN on July 11, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, asiangrrlMN, even one cigarette a day increases the risk of lung cancer over never smoking.

I think what some fail to realize is that each cigarette consumed involves a very small, but real chance of mutagenesis in an oncogene or tumor suppressor gene. As most lung cancers result from the accumulation of several such mutations, the more one smokes, the greater the likelihood that a "critical mass" of mutations will be reached.

Of course, one cigarette a day is much less likely to lead to the critical mass of mutations required for cancer onset than a pack-a-day. However, for those with inherited mutations in cancer control genes, the head start on tumorigenesis with which they are born really makes even a cigarette a day a risky proposition.

Posted by: Chuck Darwin on July 11, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Looking at current events,I wonder just what he has been smoking!!

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on July 11, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I had a boss who is down to 1 cig a day(after dinner) for several decades now. Not everyone takes the same path. If Obama is down to 3-4 a day and he carries no genetic predisposition to the common smoking ailments, imho, his prospects are good.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 11, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

i wish he's use the bully pulpit to point out that if an educated 40-something can't kick the habit...what chance does the average teenager the tobacco companies continue to hook have?

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 11, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I heard from a reputable sort that Laura Bush was quite the smoker; but, the news people didn't seem to want to expose her.

Posted by: Bonnie on July 11, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I want to see Obama sign Kennedy-Dodd, then blow smoke into the media's faces.

Posted by: Ohioan on July 11, 2009 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Quitting -- or even cutting down -- sure as hell is hard, even if you're not living in a pressure cooker, the way he does. I know. Until this April, I had been a 2 pack a day smoker (3 during the exams, back in college), for 44 yrs. Since April 3, I've cut down to 7-8 a day and I spend most of my time thinking about smoking, when my next "allowed" one is going to be, and whether I'll have enough self-restraint not to kill the next person who sermonises to me about smoking...

Posted by: exlibra on July 11, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Cigarettes, are lovely, and absolutely de1icious.

The insiduous draw of cigarettes is in part (or whole) is that they can be used both to relax (long slow languous draws), and/or to amp up (anxious mad puffing; you've all seen it)

For myself, the seeming (illusory?) mental edge
cigarettes provide, was the most seductive.

If Obama has to a manage a crisis like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, I hope his staff would provide him with cartons of smokes.

I would say that, even if Obama didn't smoke.

-- Ex-smoker. (12 years btw age 30 and 42)

Posted by: Joe Bloggs on July 11, 2009 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK
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