Saturday, February 03, 2007

Candidate Obama's Dirty Little Secret...He's a Smoker!

Here is an interesting speculation on the “framing of an issue.” The front page of the Globe and Mail has a piece by Sinclair Stewart an“expose” on Democrat aspirant for Presidential nominee Barack Obama.

The Obama official campaign image of the “charismatic, youthful vigour and sex appeal that hasn’t been seen in their party (Democrats) since the days of John F. Kennedy” is threatened by some cognitive dissonance.

Why? Because Barack Obama is a smoker!

The fact that he smokes is front page news in a national Canadian newspaper! This factoid apparently trumps other potential framing characterizations of candidate Obama. For example, that he is serious black contender, experimented with drugs as a kid, the victim of a viral spreading of misinformation in fringe media and the blogosphere that had attended an Islamic madrassa during his childhood in Indonesia. And the misguided musings of “I coulda been a contender,” Senator Joe Biden’s comment about Obama being a “clean” black man.

The open question has now been stated. “Can a cigarette smoker win a presidential election?” The answer appears to be NO! Not in this day and age. “There will be people who are turned off because that’s a sign of addiction” according to American political strategist Jennifer Beylin. She goes on to say the real questions about Obama are “…is he electable (the black question?)…and…is he experienced enough?” (Youthful vigour is perhaps a two-edged sword.)

The article also frames the smoking issue aggressively. “Cigarette addiction, which not so long go was perceived as a mere psychological weakness, has suddenly come to signify a moral lapse, if not reckless endangerment.” A deeper context around smoking is expressed by McGill professor Jarrett Rudy. He frames the social values context of smoking in public places has come to be “…seen as a sign of aggression.” Rudy observes that “Smoking in public space makes them uninhabitable….To start smoking is an aggressive attempt to assert control over space.”

Times have really changed when a major question about a leading candidte for President of the United States of America is “Will America accept a smoker as President?” I wonder if that will be the question that will be the "value driver" for how citizen's actually decide who they choose to support. Will it become more dominant, even covertly, than the more obvious question “Is American ready for a black President?”

Isn't change interesting!