By Ron Rosenbaum
Let me offer a somewhat hyperbolic hypothetical. It's the winter of 2009, and a crisis has erupted between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Putin (surprise!) is acting arrogantly and aggressively, trying to push the new American president around. Do you want Barack Obama, the guy who has his finger on our nuclear trigger, notorious nicotine addict, to be dying for a smoke? All irritable, his nerves and famously smooth temper on edge? No outlet for his intolerable frustration but ... a butt. But no butts to be found.The White House, of course, has been a butt-free zone since the Clinton administration. That pack of Marlboro Reds he's kept stashed under a bush in the Rose Garden, hoping it'll be camouflaged? Out of reach. The only thing that looks like a butt is, well, a button, and it's looking good. Why not reach for it? Then he won't have to put up any longer with the insane puritanical rules imposed by those who don't know, will never know, the knife-edge of nicotine desire.Do you want to die because President Obama is dying for a smoke? It's true that smoking would be bad for our 44th president, who's been trying to kick the habit. Lung cancer caused by smoking is a major cause of death in America. Even secondhand smoke is deadly, we're told. But how about secondhand radioactive plutonium? Might that turn out to be a major cause of death (for those not already dead in a nuclear exchange)? Do I have to answer that?OK, so Obama isn't going to start a nuclear war because of the well-meaning but counterproductive no-smoking rule. At least, I hope he isn't. I don't smoke, but I know smokers, and I know smokers trying to quit, and they scare me.Which is why those who say a president who smokes in the White House would be a bad role model are all wrong. In fact, consider the possibility that he'd be a better, perhaps more effective, negative role model. He'd teach the nation's youth how scary an addiction smoking is: Even the most powerful man in the world is putty in its tobacco-stained hands.
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