Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Did Obama Inhale?"

The Caucus (NY Times political blog):
AUDUBON, Iowa – In early caucus and primary states, voters play one very important role in the presidential race long before they cast their ballots: They ask questions.
At the first stop of a four-city tour through western Iowa yesterday, Senator Barack Obama invited his audiences to ask whatever was on their minds, saying: “These questions have not been prescreened or predetermined. Give it your best shot.”

He was, of course, making a not-so-veiled reference to the hubbub that engulfed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign, which acknowledged planting questions in at least two Iowa audiences earlier this year.

So from Council Bluffs to Dunlap, Harlan to Audubon, Mr. Obama took questions on a variety of topics. According to our ears, health care, immigration, the budget deficit and teacher’s salaries were among the most-asked inquiries of the day.

Until, that is, it approached 9 p.m. and he reached the end of his session in Audubon.

“What money are you going to be on?” a child in the front row asked Mr. Obama.

After he stopped laughing and collected his thoughts, he said: “Let’s see, the $5 bill is taken. The $1 bill is taken. Who’s on the $2 bill? I don’t know.”

“The truth is, they don’t put the president on money until long after you dead,” Mr. Obama continued, talking over the crowd’s laughter. “So I don’t want to be on money anytime soon. Maybe 75, 80 years from now I’ll be on the $100 bill or something. That’d be fine, elbowing Benjamin Franklin aside.”

Before moving onto the next question, he added: “That was a good question. That was the best question of the day.”

But not all of the few hundred people who gathered here on a Saturday night were finished. A man asked about legalization of marijuana. (Mr. Obama is opposed. “I’m concerned about how folks will grow their own and say it’s for medicinal purposes. That’s kind of a slippery slope there,” he said. Changing his voice and laughing, he added: “I was feeling a little intense, so I needed a joint.”)

And that, finally, opened the door to one of the final questions of the day, which was reminiscent of the famous line asked of Bill Clinton in the 1992 campaign: “Did you inhale?”

“I did. It’s not something I’m proud of. It was a mistake as a young man. But I never understood that line,” Mr. Obama said, pausing to recall Mr. Clinton’s insistence that he didn’t inhale. “The point was to inhale. That was the point.”
Howie P.S.: I was surprised by the tone of this post on the conservative website, Townhall: "Obama Smoked the Ganja." Going a step further, an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle asks, "Why shouldn't Obama say that drug war's pure folly?"

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