THE ADVANTAGE OF NOT QUITE QUITTING.

Editors' note: Abby Rapoport is a summer 2008 intern at the Prospect.

Obama, who openly discussed his decision to quit smoking in 2006, told reporters on Tuesday that he’s taken a few puffs in the last few months. But what’s bad for his lungs may be a plus for his campaign.

In 2006, Michael Currie Schafer argued that Obama should keep smoking, because it made him less packaged, less manicured for candidacy. Maybe it did, but too many people find smoking upsetting and offensive for him to just keep on. Furthermore, if his supporters want to question McCain’s health, their own candidate can’t appear to throw caution to the wind when it comes to his lungs.

Which is why a struggle to quit makes Obama so appealing. Clearly he’s trying. Clearly he wants to quit. But while most other things -- like fundraising and speaking -- seem to come easily to Obama, this one seems to actually be tough. That may just be what some voters want to see.

--Abby Rapoport

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