As an oppressed minority, Barak Obama has seen life from a perspective all too rare among politicians. He has suffered being cast out of restaurants and other public accomodations. He has strived to pass himself off as a member of the ruling majority, only to have his efforts cast into doubt and his minority status thrown back into his face. Some people think that none of this matters—that we should not discuss Obama's minority status, much less consider it as a factor in his candidacy. To the contrary, I think we should celebrate it as a something that makes him more likely than McCain or Clinton to pursue a policy of peace.
I refer, of course, to Obama's nicotene habit and how it might encourage him to take a fresh perspective on the ongoing Drug War.
As a cigarette smoker, Obama has, like others in that oppressed minority, suffered shame and rejection. Obama has evidently tried to stop or at least hide his habit, only to have reporters badger him about his efforts and doubt his sincerity. Some people think we shouldn't care whether or not Obama smokes. As someone who struggles with addiction daily, though, Obama surely knows better than most that criminalizing drugs offers a very poor way to help the afflicted. More than any other presidential candidate, he can understand first-hand the appeal of recreational drugs, and can empathize with those who let their bad habits get the best of them.
Thanks to his addiction to cigarettes, Obama offers us the hope of a kinder, freer, more peaceful America.