WASHINGTON – The recent publicity around Sen. Barack Obama has pushed his name up the list of presidential front-runners, but his memoir of 11 years ago, in which Obama admits to using marijuana and cocaine, could push Americans to rethink what's acceptable in a presidential candidate.
A top Democratic prospect for the 2008 White House, Obama wrote about himself in "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance."
"Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. ... I got high [to] push questions of who I was out of my mind," he wrote in the book.
The Illinois Democrat is the first White House contender to admit trying cocaine. In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton said he "didn't inhale" when asked about sampling pot while a college student. Rumors flew about President Bush using cocaine. He never admitted to such experimentation, but doesn't drink alcohol after much liberal consumption as a young man.
The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions that Obama's candor could represent a new era in politics, particularly since such revelations are not shocking to now power-wielding baby boomers.
Still, such admissions are not common for success-seeking politicians.
"This is not the kind of book you would ever expect a politician to write," GOP consultant Alex Vogel told the Post. "Anyone who has a career in politics has to be concerned with what's in their past, but there is no question that Americans have an appetite for redemption."
Obama's latest book now tops bestseller lists with 800,000 copies in print. Brisk sales of his latest book, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," demonstrate his popularity.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told the newspaper that the book shows the freshman senator is someone Americans can trust.
"I believe what the country is looking for is someone who is open, honest and candid about themselves rather than someone who seems endlessly driven by polls or focus groups," Gibbs said.