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Sweet blog column: Obama tells students drugs, booze in his past. Giuliani “I respect his honesty."

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) gave high school students on Tuesday a lesson in what not to do: he told them he experimented with drugs and booze when he was their age.

Obama made the disclosures long ago, in his best selling memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” which has made youthful drug use a non-issue in his political life. Still, Obama rarely brings up this aspect of his past while on the campaign trail.

After taking some questions from students while visiting a study hall classroom at Manchester Central High School, Principal John Rist said he had one himself. What was Obama like in high school?

As snow was falling outside, Obama talked about the distractions of going to school in Hawaii because it was easy to “goof off” in a place where the weather was good all the time. Then he added, "You know, I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about. You know, there were times you know I got into drinking. I experimented with drugs.”

Neither the students nor the vice principal asked a followup regarding drinking and drugs. In his memoir, Obama wrote about smoking pot, drinking liquor and at times snorting cocaine. “Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final fatal role of the young would be black man," wrote in "Dreams."

Obama told the students, mainly freshmen and sophmores, that he did not apply himself while in high school; he loved to play basketball and think about girls. He only got serious about his studies in college, when he started realizing there were injustices in the world.

“You know, there was a whole stretch of time where I didn't really apply myself a lot. It wasn't until I got out of college, er, got out of .high school and went to college that I started realizing, 'Man, I wasted a lot of time. '"

Obama attended a private, elite high school in Hawaii. He attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, then transferred to Columbia University in New York, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He went on to received a law degree from Harvard.

He ended the session going desk to desk shaking hands with the teens and with an inspirational prediction: "I believe all of you are going to do amazing things in your lives."

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Sun-Times poliical writer Abdon Pallasch reports Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani praised Obama for being forthright about his drug use, saying, “I respect his honesty in doing that.

"One of the things we need from our people running for office is not this pretense of perfection. The reality is all of us that run for public office...we’re all human beings. If we haven’t made mistakes, don’t vote for us, ’cause we’ve got some big ones that are going to happen in the future.”

Giuliani has never disclosed any drug use but has faced embarassing questions about his divorces and remarriages, which involved some overlap of relationships. Giuliani spoke Tuesday at the Sheraton in downtown Chicago, where he accepted the endorsement of former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.

Giuliani continued to downplay questions about his judgement in defending Bernard Kerik, who rose from Giuliani's chauffeur to police commissioner to nominee for director of homeland security. He was indicted two weeks ago on 16 felony counts including tax fraud and lying to the White House.

"Throughout my career I've made mistakes," Giuliani said. "Sometimes I've picked the wrong person for something. But Most of the time, I obviously picked the right person for something because I couldn't possibly have had the results I have had if I was making the wrong choices."


Earlier, at the Manchester school, Obama unveiled an education policy agenda.

The following is a transcript of Obama talking about himself in high school…

"I went to high school in Hawaii, so there was a lot of opportunity to goof off because the weather is really good all the time.

“I did well in school, but I didn't really apply myself. I did what I needed to do to get into college and it came fairly easily to me. But I never really worked as hard as I should have. I was big on basketball. We were state champs. I thought I was better than I was, but I just loved the game and I played basketball a lot. I thought about girls a lot.

"You know, I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about. You know, there were times you know I got into drinking. I experimented with drugs.

“You know, there was a whole stretch of time where I didn't really apply myself a lot. It wasn't until I got out of college, er, got out of .high school and went to college that I started realizing, 'Man, I wasted a lot of time. '"
Endit.

16 Comments

Lynn,

You are relentless when it comes to Obama, aren't you?

Here is what he exactly said: http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&brand=msnbc&vid=59afe43d-f3aa-43eb-84a4-4e4557511d04

Please do not throw words and hope that they stick.

-Wayne

At least he is honest about it and getting it out early. Bush is admittedly an alchoholic and perhaps less candid about among other things, cocaine use, so let's hope the self-proclaimed "holier than others" don't run with this with any success.

He's such a decent, honest role model us all. He realized his mistakes, corrected them and went on to achieve greatness.

That shows us all that we have amazing possiblities too!

Thanks for the article Ms. Sweet.

Obama '08

Bush had a DWI arrest on his record. So did Cheney. They got buried somewhere and Gonzales covered for Bush. I find Obama's candor refreshing. We have a complete boozehound as President and some of his brain cells were probably fried in coke. It's about time we got honest about this.

Candid. Honest. Trustworthy. These traits reflect directly on Obama's character, and influence his belief in transparency and open government.

There is no better man or woman running for president in 2008!!!


Obama '08

Just checking to see if I am still censored.

Do you think you can really make people believe he has a speech impediment by writing up inaccurate ers, ums, and you knows?

Wonder if the media will do its job this time around and check out Obama's drug and alcohol use. It failed to do so in Campaign 2000 when George W. Bush was ever so lightly lightly questioned on his transgressions and essentially was excused on the matter while reporters applied themselves furiously to the task of ridiculing Al Gore on everything from his Vietnam War service to the way he parted his hair. But then at that time the press liked Bush and didn't like Gore. It was personal. I think this time around, the media wants to give Obama a pass on his drug and alcohol abuse, among other things, while getting down to the business of ridiculing Mrs. Clinton on everything from her cleavage to her laugh.

Honesty is a rare phenomenon in politics - Obama has it - I hope it works for him and wish him the best in his effort to bring much needed true reform to the process of U.S. government.

Contrary to what was said above the article reported accurately
what was said and transpired. I will vote for him in the mocrate
nomination. If he doesn't make it, I hope he stays in the
senate or runs for governor of Illinois.

I respect Mr.Obama's honesty, I also heard that Mitt Romney criticized Obama for being so honest, but what could you expect from Romney who avoided the Vietnam war and from the looks of him thinks we're still living in the 1950's, you know white bread, cookies and milk, and Leave it to Beaver.

ED:

"Just checking to see if I am still censored."

Anyone who has been posting here for more than a month has been sensored at least once, so you're not alone.

Obama’s drug use and apparent casual attitude of talking to high school students about using drug was not big deal just wasting some time shows what kind of character he has! It shows what kind of judgment he has! Hillary, it's time to fight back about charater and judgment!

We parents don't get it. Obama’s drug use and apparent casual attitude of talking to high school students about using drug was not big deal just wasting some time shows what kind of character he has! It shows what kind of judgment he has! Hillary did not use drug, even in the 60s. It's time for a never-drug-using, never-alcoholic, never-smoking woman to be in charge! Go Hillary!

lindax: "It's time for a never-drug-using, never-alcoholic, never-smoking woman to be in charge! Go Hillary!"

Many prominent American serial killers have also been drug-free and alcohol-free. What's your point?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 20, 2007 2:01 PM.

Sweet scoop: Oprah to stump for Obama. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog extra: Can you guess the three people Obama wants to dine with? Autographs refrigerator. is the next entry in this blog.

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