Obama`s Smoking, Meds, Fear Of Public Nakedness, Etc.
November 20, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Michael Kinsley writes about something the press studiously ignored during our recent campaign, which sure seemed more like an extended coronation ceremony than an actual contest: although he claimed he was quitting, Obama still smokes.

One way he avoided press scrutiny in general was by not traveling by bus to campaign events with the press on-board. Instead, he's grabbed a ride with a campaign staffer and light up a cigarette.

With Obama's high-strung, sensitive personality, it's likely a good thing that he self-medicates with cigarettes. The odds of him coming down with lung cancer and making Joe Biden President are not infinitesimal, but they aren't so high that we'd want Obama to be himself with no nicotine in his system to calm him down.

It's interesting that there is no press interest in whatever else he might be medicated with. Obama released a brief, unrevealing letter from his doctor awhile back, but it didn't mention what prescription drugs he has taken.

I would guess that Obama has been on anti-depressants at least once in his life, and probably tranquilizers as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that! The number of people who have benefited from these kind of drugs must be in the scores of millions by now. For example, I had prescriptions for both anti-depressants and tranquilizers for about six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer in 1996. In particular, the tranquilizers were effective in fending off panic attacks. I was prone to having a panic attack not only over fear of dying but, more debilitatingly, I would get a panic attack over fear that I would have a panic attack—a rather nasty vicious circle. After a couple of weeks, just having the bottle of Xanax in my pocket was reassuring enough that if I started having a panic attack, I could quell it, so I didn't even have to take Xanax any more—just carry it around like a good luck charm for another month.

Finally, a reader who lives in the same apartment complex as Obama's mystery man Mike Signator offers a plausible explanation of why Obama often briefly visits Signator's apartment after working out in the apartment building's gym: to take a private shower. In an age of cellphone cameras, the last thing we need on the Internet are pictures of the President-Elect in the health club shower.