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Laurence Inman’s Blog

UP IN SMOKE

11-06-2009

A disillusioned Laurence Inman discovers that one of his heroes has feet of clay.

I discovered something the other day. Something which to my no doubt delicate sensibilities I found just a teeny bit shocking.

Barack Obama smokes.

He smokes regular fags, apparently.

Camels.

He isn’t one of these famous rich people who smoke a very expensive brand of tabs and delude themselves that they won’t give you lung cancer, and may even be good for you. Like celebrities who think that their bit of the plane will float gently to earth if the rest of it crashes, killing all the people in the cheap seats.

Why is it so surprising?

Well, you’d expect that a man who’s been so determined to become president would find kicking the weed a piece of cake.

On the other hand, it shows how strong a grip the addiction has on all smokers that even someone young, fit, with a family and everything to gain from stopping, still can’t do it. You’d think the mere thought of dying in gasping agony years before your time would be enough of a deterrent.

But no.

Yet I still feel a bit discomfited, a bit let down.

It’s like finding out that your mom used to torture the dog, or that Nick Griffin listens to Antony Hegarty.

Of course many other presidents have been fag-suckers. Roosevelt, Nixon, Johnson, Ford, Reagan, even (or especially) Kennedy.

Churchill was hardly ever seen without a cigar, nor Attlee without a pipe. Wilson was a piper in public, but was addicted to cigars in private. He didn’t want anyone to think he was aping Winston. Eden liked the odd cheroot.

Very odd sometimes.

But Obama? I just can’t get my head round it.

And, in the same article I found out about his filthy habit, it said that any snapper who gets a clear shot of him lighting up could comfortably retire on the proceeds.

It made me think of what other negatives would have picture editors blowing their budgets to get their hands on.

Gordon Brown tap-dancing.

Katie Price writing margin-notes in her copy of The Prelude.

Germaine Greer kintting.

Alex Ferguson stroking a cat.

Andrew Flintoff drinking water.

Gordon Ramsay mixing up a Vesta Beef Curry.

Martin Amis writing a fluent sentence.

One could go on.

But one can’t go back.

I can no longer see Barack as the slim, handsome bloke I thought he was.

I picture him instead waking up and groping for his roll-ups, upsetting the piled up ash-tray all over the carpet, coughing at the breakfast table, the kids glaring at him resentfully, Michelle assuring them that ‘Daddy’s under stress at the moment.’

I have few illusions about politicians.

I know he’ll tell us lies, send planes to blow up innocent babies somewhere and end up being more hated than Bush.

But why does he have to spoil everything by smoking?

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