Barack Obama has spent the last few months kite-boarding with a billionaire off the coast of a private island, hanging around on a super yacht in Tahiti with more billionaires and rock stars and mega-celebrities, and, we’re assuming, furnishing his five homes spread across the U.S.
But you know Obama: He just can’t stay out of the spotlight. And so, on Monday, 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 Obama sat cross-legged on stage with a half dozen young people, musing about life, politics – and smoking weed.
Oh, and 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 pot head in a group called the Choom Gang. Lest you forget, David Maraniss’ biography Barack Obama: The Story details Obama’s days of smoking marijuana with his friends in Honolulu.
“A favorite hangout was a lush hideaway called Pumping Stations, where they parked their cars, turned up Blue Oyster Cult on their stereos, ‘lit up some ‘sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds,’ and washed it down with ‘green bottle beer.’ Once stoned, Maraniss alleges, the gang was often seen slipping past the ‘keep out’ signs at the gorgeous Manoa Stream and standing under a rock where water rushed overhead,” The Week reported in a review of the book.
On Monday, Obama warned kids not to photograph themselves too much because “everything’s searchable.”
Recalling his autobiography Dreams From My Father, 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.”
Oh, the “struggles,” growing up in a middle class neighborhood in Honolulu, sneaking into the “gorgeous Manoa Stream.” Such hardship!