On the heels of President Obama's first medical checkup
since taking office, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fielded a barrage of questions about the president's habits, mostly on the burning issue of the president's struggle to quit smoking. (No, not that kind of smoking!
This isn't the first time
the press has quizzed Gibbs on the president's intake of cancer sticks, but he was slightly more forthcoming this time, admitting that his boss occasionally falls off the wagon.
He also outed the president as a serial dessert-tray abuser
, a proclivity that has resulted in a slightly elevated "bad cholesterol" count.
As someone who frequently smokes and eats at the White House, I can relate to the president's struggles and feel duty-bound to offer up some helpful tips. After the jump, check out Gibbs' interrogation and my prescription for presidential excess.
First things first: Nobody, but nobody, is buying the notion that Gibbs doesn't know exactly when and how the president gets his nic fixes. Unlike prior press secretaries, Gibbs is a pretty close pal of the president, making pretty much any claim of ignorance on his part suspect.
I can report at least one piece of good news here. Before being inaugurated, Obama promised not to smoke
at the White House itself. According to White House staffers who would definitely know, the president has kept that promise. It's still unclear
whether the same can be said of Joe Biden's office.
As one of a very small group of White House reporters who smoke,
I can relate to the stress the president must feel. Sure, it's a matter of degree, but basically, we're the same. Smoking is a way to relieve stress and
boredom, both of which are abundant at the White House. While we're waiting around to snap pictures of him getting on Marine One, I'm sure he's waiting around somewhere for the Marine guard to finish opening the helicopter door, foot tapping impatiently.
Conversely, for every foreign policy crisis that Obama has to deal with, we have to worry about silencing our cell phones
or Gibbs heckling us
I actually think not smoking on the grounds is his first mistake. If the president truly wants to quit smoking, he should make it a point only to bum cigarettes from reporters. This would act as aversion therapy, since you can't just bum a smoke and walk away. If Obama knows that every time he falls off the wagon, he has to give out smoke-fueled exclusives, it might deter him altogether.
The solution to the president's food problem is pretty much the same. Instead of indulging in fancy, chef-y goodness, he should jog down to the press room and see what they give us to eat.
The best the vending machine in the press break room (pictured) has to offer is Cheetos a´ la Snickers, a combination that's sure to kill any craving. Usually, I just skip it and go have another cigarette.
OK, so it's not a perfect plan. Maybe that imperfection is part of the fascination. He may be the leader of the free world, but mundane challenges like these remind us that the president is still human, just like us.
Tommy Christopher is Asylum's White House Correspondent and smokes Marlboro Menthol Lights.