The President-elect of the United States smokes. Wow. I guess it’s not that big of a deal – lots of people smoke. But this is the PRESIDENT. The one who made history. The man who’s going to fix everything. The icon of change.
The one in the backyard sneakin’ a butt during the White House Easter Egg Hunt? Somehow, it just doesn’t fit.
In Why We Suck, Dr. Dennis Leary (yes he’s a doctor – read the book if you need proof) says that he wants a president who is a real guy.
He says he wants a president who isn’t afraid to admit he’s not perfect — and I do, too.
He said he wants to see Polaroids of the president in a rum-punch stained bedsheet at a college toga party — and I do, too.
He said he wants to hear a president talk about how many Twinkies he ate after the Halloween bong hit competition during his sophomore fall term — and, well, I do, too!
For some reason, though, the smoking thing is a little different. You see, the things Dr. Leary talks about are what many of us would consider the standard transgressions of youth. It’s the same reason why we voted for Bill Clinton despite his silly lies about smoking weed. But for Barack Obama to behave badly into adulthood is going to be hard for people to take.
Now, I’m not chastising smokers by any stretch of the imagination. There are millions of them across the country. And even though research proves that smoking increases the likelihood of cancer and other serious health issues, all those chronic American smokers continue to do it.
But they’re not going to be our president, are they?
The real question isn’t whether or not we’re actually concerned that the president engages in risky behavior; it’s what we think of a guy who does. It comes down to the perceptions you want to create. Although he’s only human, the reality is that we expect him to be superhuman. We expect him to laugh at little vices. We expect him to be different from everyone who can’t find the willpower to quit. And when it comes down to it, we actually don’t want a real guy. We want someone better than us. Or at least someone we think is.