have you followed the recent stories regarding barack obama’s li’l habit? when i think smoking presidents, i call to mind images of fdr’s jaunty cigarette holder and general eisenhower inhaling four packs a day as he led the allies to victory in wwii.

these days, things are different. why, mr. obama’s smoking may cause greater controversy than his teenage cocaine use. as maureen dowd suggests, smoking makes mr. obama “intriguingly imperfect.” as a non-smoker, i enjoy the image of the commander-in-chief sneaking out by the loading dock to suck down a heater between meetings.

just as former presidents clinton, ford, and reagan, mr. obama won’t be caught smoking around the cameras. joe biden would disapprove, i suppose, but i think most of us like to see a little fallibility in our presidential candidates.

while i would not approve of a glue-sniffing president or a chronic inebriate president, smoking has different connotations. i’d advise mr. obama to avoid the nicotine patches until after the election. a patch-wearing president seems weak and compromised relative to a smoking president. think about it: can you imagine winston churchill chewing nicorette? not during wartime, i’ll bet. nah, winnie went so far as to say, “My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.” here’s hoping our presidential candidates proceed with equal bravado.