So, I'm not a Washingtonian. I was born there and lived there for three short years before we took off for points middle-west, but I'm clearly no Beltway insider. Naturally, I didn't know what a "half-smoke" was until I saw the discussion surrounding it and Obama's trip to Ben's Chili Bowl on Meet the Press with video reposted at Serious Eats.
Wasn't I just talking about how obsessed we all are with every little move Obama makes, including where and what he eats?
After David Gregory played the clip of Obama in Ben's asking, "What's a half-smoke?" Cosby reacted to this question with a humorously exaggerated eye-roll, just as though Theo had asked if he could borrow the family car to take Charmaine on a date while wearing a crazy yellow shirt that Denise made for him just before Rudy ran down the stairs and lip-synced to a comically low-pitched song.
This is the thing -- I like that Obama asked that question. I like that he's come to D.C. and, with that question, pretty much said, "Hey, I know I'm not from around here. I'm from the lands of Portuguese sausage and of Polish sausage. I'm not going to jam a Yankees cap on my head and pretend as if I've always lived among you, I'm asking you to teach me your ways and your customs."
It's humble, it's curious. It's Obama.