Washington, D.C., is going smoke-free in all public places, and the federal buildings are already smoke-free — except one, the Speaker’s Lobby of the U.S. Capitol.
This is a long corridor and series of rooms behind the House chamber with armchairs, leather couches, chandeliers, fireplaces, tall windows overlooking the Mall — and ashtrays.
The Lobby is where members relax out of sight of the public but only steps from the floor, where they gossip, where they meet with reporters — and where they smoke. The Washington Post estimates that 25 percent of House members smoke.
Now, according to the Post, Rep. Nancy Pelosi is considering declaring the Lobby smoke-free when she becomes speaker next month. She’s a liberal Democrat from California, and that’s what liberal Democrats from California do: Make the rest of us do what’s best for us whether we want to or not.
Except that this is Washington and there’s a political undertone to everything.
Pelosi’s opposite number and daily opponent in the House will be Republican John Boehner of Ohio, a chain smoker. In those long legislative days next year — Democrats are threatening to go to a five-day workweek — Boehner will have to stoically endure his nicotine cravings or risk deserting the floor to bolt to his office for a smoke, if the Lobby in fact becomes smoke-free.
But surely he’ll be comforted by the thought that Pelosi is only doing what’s best for him.