Thursday, January 18, 2007

If he did it...

Gaurav's post on Obama reminded me of an anecdote that my boss once shared with me. This seems to be eons away, now that I am into IT. However, at the time when I was mingling with reporters who were into congenital name dropping, it was no less than a scoop. In his post, Gaurav wrote about the infamous Clinton quote about his tryst with marijuana.

Remember when Bill Clinton was asked about smoking pot in college, he said he did, but did not inhale. Obama was asked the same question. he said he smoked pot... and also inhaled, because that is the whole point of pot.

Refreshing honesty at best, or impression of honesty at worst.

I am not a great fan of Obama as a presidential candidate. Despite that, I do admire his candor with respect to his substance 'abuse,' if it may be called so. I guess he is in a better position than McCain, who, in my opinion, has gambled way further by supporting Bush's decision of sending additional troops to Iraq. But, I digress.

I wanted to share something I know about Clinton and his 'smoked pot but did not inhale it' quote. I was working for United Press International (UPI) then (fall 2005) and our chief editor Martin Walker, former international editor for Guardian, told us that what Clinton said was absolutely true. Walker was Clinton's room mate at University college, Oxford and the pot incident happened in front of him. He told us that Clinton was allergic to smoke, as it induced him to cough violently. Clinton would go out of the room if anyone even smoked a cigarette. The pot incident was actually a dare. He said that it was sort of a ragging incident. Walker and a couple of his friends used to tease Clinton and call him a pussy 'cos he didn't smoke and dared him to try pot at a party. It was then that Clinton actually smoked pot. According to Walker he coughed violently and did not inhale it at all.

I haven't read Clinton's biography and don't know whether he mentions about this incident. I also know this sounds hard to believe given Clinton's propensity for lying, especially his lying under oath about sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. But Walker had no reason to be his PR agent, especially in front of a bunch of newbie reporters. He, in fact, told this anecdote in the tone of 'landga ala re ala' (the boy who cried wolf) story. He was talking to us in the context of Dan Rather's piece on 60 minutes about George Bush skipping the Draft and then recollected how a congenital liar like Clinton was actually caught on the wrong foot, not for his other nefarious deeds, but, unfortunately or fortunately, for something he was actually being truthful about.

I suppose I haven't got over the penchant for name dropping myself and hence the post. I seek solace in the fact that if name dropping was my motive, then talking about my interviews with Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty and Padmini Kolhapure would have garnered my blog more attention, ;)