In Washington and across the country there's understandably a great deal of speculation on whether President Obama and the incoming speaker of the House, John Boehner, can work together and on what issues.
Here's a suggestion on where to start.
Yeah, that's what the country needs to achieve cooperation in Washington and peace in the world: tense and jittery leaders with a jones for a smoke.
Really, why is it any of Tom Brokaw's business if the president has a cigarette?
Brokaw goes on to quote the dubious recent claims of Surgeon General Regina Benjamin:
"Tobacco smoke damages almost every organ in your body. One cigarette can cause a heart attack" in smokers with underlying heart disease.
Maybe it can. But if Boehner smokes a pack a day, I calculate he's smoked 292,000 cigarettes in the past 40 years. I guess he hasn't smoked that one bad one. Brokaw also mentions a study on the costs to society of smoking, a claim that other studies have rejected.
There are plenty of reasons to criticize Obama and Boehner. But can't we leave their private habits alone? And then maybe in return they could stop nagging and legislating about our private habits.