Obama re­turns from Tahiti, talks smok­ing weed with stu­dents

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY JOSEPH CURL Joseph Curl has cov­ered pol­i­tics for 25 years, in­clud­ing 12 years as White House cor­re­spon­dent at The Washington Times. He also ran the Drudge Re­port as morn­ing edi­tor for four years. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitte

Barack Obama has been par­ty­ing like a rock star since he left the White House. He has spent the last few months kite-board­ing with a bil­lion­aire off the coast of a pri­vate is­land, hanging around on a su­pery­acht in Tahiti with more bil­lion­aires and rock stars and megacelebri­ties and, we’re as­sum­ing, fur­nish­ing his five homes spread across the U.S.

But you know Barack Obama: He just can’t stay out of the spot­light. And so, on Mon­day, Mr. Obama showed up for his first big event since leav­ing of­fice in Jan­uary. He par­tic­i­pated in a dis­cus­sion with stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Chicago, where he was once a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor teach­ing con­sti­tu­tional law. The avun­cu­lar Mr. Obama sat cross-legged on stage with a half-dozen young people, mus­ing about life, pol­i­tics — and smok­ing weed.

Oh, and self­ies.

“I would ad­vise all of you to be a lit­tle more cir­cum­spect about your self­ies,” Mr. Obama said to laugh­ter (even though he was known to take a LOT of self­ies).

“If you had pic­tures of ev­ery­thing I’d done when I was in high school, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been pres­i­dent of the United States,” he said.

And then he segued into his days as a pot­head in a group called the Choom Gang. Lest you for­get, David Maraniss’ bi­og­ra­phy “Barack Obama: The Story” de­tails Mr. Obama’s days of smok­ing mar­i­juana with his friends in Honolulu.

Mr. Obama’s friend Mark Bendix of­ten served as chauf­feur in his Volk­swa­gen minibus, known as “the Choomwagon.” The group of teens would head off to Mount Tan­talus, where they parked, “turned up their stereos play­ing Aero­smith, Blue Oys­ter Cult and Ste­vie Won­der, lit up some ‘sweet-sticky Hawai­ian buds’ and washed it down with ‘green bot­tled beer’ (the Choom Gang pre­ferred Heineken, Becks, and St. Pauli Girl).” Good times.

Mr. Maraniss writes that Mr. Obama was a cham­pion weed smoker. “When they were choom­ing in a car all the win­dows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceil­ing.”

And Mr. Obama in­spired the goal of “To­tal Ab­sorp­tion,” or “TA.”

“TA was the op­po­site of Bill Clin­ton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Ox­ford he smoked dope but never in­haled,” Mr. Maraniss wrote. When it was your turn to hit the joint, if you ex­haled early, “you were as­sessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

So it was in­ter­est­ing that on Mon­day, Mr. Obama warned kids not to pho­to­graph them­selves too much be­cause “ev­ery­thing’s search­able.”

Re­call­ing his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Obama said, “Be­cause I had been pretty hon­est about the strug­gles I went though as a young man, uh, when I ran for of­fice and there was some big re­veal about, ‘Oh, the guy smoked pot,’ it’s like, ‘Yeah, no, it’s in my book,’” he said to laugh­ter and ap­plause. “I, I, I, and, and, and, I, I learned from that, I, I, I didn’t sug­ar­coat it. I didn’t sug­gest that some­how it had been, uh, you know, some­thing that I rec­om­mend for every­body.

“But that’s what teenage kids did at that age when I was where I was grow­ing up. Not every­body. Some were wiser than me. I wasn’t that wise.”

Ah, but Mr. Obama was there to make sure that young people know they can smoke weed — and still be­come pres­i­dent. It worked for him, right? Such a good role model.

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