More media minutiae

Matt Cooper thinks the biggest news out of the presser was Obama’s discussion of his own battle with smoking:

The weirdest moment came when he got asked about his own smoking and the new law giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. First, he referred to it as his law, which seemed a little grandiose since the likes of Henry Waxman have been pushing it since he was just a Chicago law professor. But more odd was his rather lengthy, odd defense of his current smoking. He likened it to being in “AA,” which is an unsettling image (“Everyone, this is Barack.” “Hi, Barack.”) and he pronounced himself 95 percent cured, which sounds odd. And his lawyerly answer about not smoking in front of family raised more questions than answers. You wished he’d just said that he struggled with it and not gotten into specifics or alchoholism metaphors.

What the hell? How is it strange at all to compare quitting smoking to quitting drinking? And everyone I know who smokes tries to avoid smoking in front of their kids.

Not to mention, we’re dealing with the biggest push for health care in 16 years, we may be seeing some form of history made in Iran…and Cooper focuses on the smoking?

And this is a guy that Josh Marshall employed for a while employs. Good Lord.






70 replies
  1. 1
    valdivia says:

    God. More idiocy. How is this news? how is this important? next they will ask him if he has sex and how often.

  2. 2
    Dave says:

    Twenty percent of Americans smoke. I really don’t think “when did you quit smoking” will be the new “when did you stop beating your wife” any time soon.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    I’ll stipulate that Waxman had been pushing for such a law since Obama was a law professor, but how many times did Waxman get it passed and signed into law?

  4. 4
    e.c. says:

    You know it’s just like when they used to ask Bush those questions about his alcoholism, the ones they always started with, “As an alcoholic myself….”

    Or when the used to ask Laura Bush about her smoking habit.

    Oh, wait. that never happened.

  5. 5
    Keith says:

    Can we *please* retire the phrase “raises more questions than it answers”?

  6. 6
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    Was Matt Cooper this much of a prick with our last President, who WAS an alcoholic and could’ve benefitted from some AA meetings?

  7. 7
    Violet says:

    Not to mention, we’re dealing with the biggest push for health care in 16 years, we may be seeing some form of history made in Iran…and Cooper focuses on the smoking?

    But those issues are hard! OMG!

    It makes their pretty little heads hurt if you bother them with actual issues and facts. They’d much rather talk about the important stuff, like OMG The President smokes! And he compared quitting smoking to AA! (Does The AA Community have a spokesperson? Quick! Get them on the phone!) And how T3h Pr3sid3nt is sew m33n he won’t ask Real Reporters questions but instead calls on that blogger, Nico Pitney. OMG! It’s so not fair!

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    You know it’s just like when they used to ask Bush those questions about his alcoholism, the ones they always started with, “As an alcoholic myself….”

    To be completely candid, as much as I’m not interested in candidates’ personal lives, I would have liked to know more about Bush’s alcohol problem. I think it’s a reasonable thing to want to know about a candidate.

  9. 9
    The Moar You Know says:

    Jake Tapper pulled the same shit back during the campaign. We are society’s punching bags.

    Last August, I ran into Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol.

    This was before the Obama surge, before he had omnipresent Secret Service agents, back when you might see him strolling solo.

    We chatted for a second, mainly about the Pakistan speech he’d recently given and about how the media had covered it. He was in good spirits.

    As any close friend or family member can attest, I have an unusually keen sense of smell and immediately I smelled cigarette smoke on Obama. Frankly, he reeked of cigarettes.

    Obama ran off before I could ask him if he’d just snuck a smoke, so I called his campaign.

    They denied it. He’d quit months before, in February, they insisted. He chewed Nicorette.

    But I knew what I’d smelled and I asked his campaign to double-check and to ask him if he’d had a cigarette.

    They reported back that he had told them he hadn’t had a cigarette since he quit.

    And maybe that was true. Maybe I imagined the cigarette smoke. My olfactory nerve somehow misfired.

    Except….last night on MSNBC’s Hardball, Obama admitted that his attempt to wean himself from the vile tobacco weed had not been entirely successful.

    “I fell off the wagon a couple times during the course of it, and then was able to get back on,” he said. “But it is a struggle like everything else.”

    Now I wonder about last August.

    It’s not a big deal in the scheme of things—the war on Iraq, a major economic crisis—indeed, it’s miniscule. Hardly worth mentioning.

    Except that I don’t like feeling that I wasn’t being dealt with honestly. And as much as citizens who are suspect of the media might scoff at such a notion, many of us consider ourselves to be your representatives to help make sure our leaders are telling us the truth, and leading the country down a path we’re confident is the right one. (Corny, I know.)

    As a smoker, one who takes pains to not smoke around kids or around all you goddamned oh-so-sensitive pearl clutching assholes who fall down in overdramatized asthmatic fits at the slightest hint of the smell of a cigarette, let me just take this oppotunity to tell you all to go fuck yourselves. The man is the president of the United Fucking States. The job comes with some stress. Let him smoke, for Chrissakes.

  10. 10
    SenyorDave says:

    You know it’s just like when they used to ask Bush those questions about his alcoholism, the ones they always started with, “As an alcoholic myself….”

    That was when Bush actually had press onferences, which was pretty rare.

  11. 11
    shirt says:

    I quit cold turkey after 25 years pack a day. About 5 times. Made it stick in 1985. Doctor tells me I shouldn’t be drinking. OK, I cut out the Scotch but I’ll kiss a pig under its tail before I cut out the remaining 4 natural food groups: Hops barley, yeast and water.

  12. 12
    Ash says:

    I don’t know, I just want to give up trying to understand what the fuck goes through these people’s minds. It’s just not worth my time.

    Yet here I am. Quitting BJ is probably just as hard as quitting smoking, and I definitely don’t do it in front of my (imaginary) kids.

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    I would have liked to know more about Bush’s alcohol problem.

    So did he really choke on a pretzel, pass out, fall over and hit his face becoming unchoked in the process and then wake up, or did he fall over drunk?

  14. 14
    Andy K says:

    (“Everyone, this is Barack. My name is Barack, and I’m a nicotine addict,” “Hi, Barack.”)

    More realistic.

  15. 15
    Tom Betz says:

    Dougj, when you said “for a while” you got my hopes up, because I hadn’t heard that Josh had canned that idiot Cooper.

    Alas, checking TPM DC shows me Matt Cooper’s face, linked to a bio that calls Cooper “Editor-at-large”.

    Do you know something TPM DC doesn’t know?

  16. 16
    MikeJ says:

    Yet here I am. Quitting BJ is probably just as hard as quitting smoking, and I definitely don’t do it in front of my (imaginary) kids.

    If that’s not “Balloon Juice” you’re referring to, you certainly shouldn’t do it in front of kids.

  17. 17
    The Moar You Know says:

    FUCKING FIX THE BLOCKQUOTE FUNCTION

  18. 18
    TimO says:

    The fact that Cooper didn’t write about conversations with Libby or Rove when they brought up CIA agents, RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS!

    He could have even made it a blind item, like “Which White House personnel are discussing the identity of covert officers with the press?”

  19. 19
    Comrade Stuck says:

    A possible scoop for Matt Cooper. Where is John Cole? has anybody heard from him? Is it still Nude Hiking Day?

  20. 20
    rock says:

    To be completely candid, as much as I’m not interested in candidates’ personal lives, I would have liked to know more about Bush’s alcohol problem. I think it’s a reasonable thing to want to know about a candidate.

    Right. But meaningful questions, about things with serious impact, are not allowed for some reason. Maybe because it disturbs the illusion that politics and governance is just a game. And such disturbance clearly makes these journalists uncomfortable.

    The inability of American political journalism to be anything but superficial is not just a glib truism, it’s a significant problem. So, Bush’s alcoholism and alleged drug use is not reported on. And so there will be no investigation of war crimes or profiteering by the previous administration. And so, there is no significant discussion of the subversion of the constitution by executive order and signing statements.

    This is why the Clinton adultery scandal was the perfect story for them. It was not about his actions as President, and had no bearing on the performance of executive responsibilities, and so it could be reported on safely.

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    As a smoker, one who takes pains to not smoke around kids or around all you goddamned oh-so-sensitive pearl clutching assholes who fall down in overdramatized asthmatic fits at the slightest hint of the smell of a cigarette, let me just take this oppotunity to tell you all to go fuck yourselves. The man is the president of the United Fucking States. The job comes with some stress. Let him smoke, for Chrissakes.

    I’m probably one of those sensitive pearl clutching assholes you’re referring to, although I haven’t ever fallen down in an asthmatic fit. I just dislike smoke a whole lot and do my best to avoid situations where there is smoke.

    Despite all that, I don’t care at all if President Obama smokes. The fact that he does humanizes him somewhat, to me. He’s a pretty amazing guy in a lot of ways. For him to struggle with quitting smoking, just like so many other people, makes him seem very normal. We all struggle with something.

  22. 22
    PeakVT says:

    he pronounced himself 95 percent cured, which sounds odd.

    How can a supposedly educated adult be so ignorant about the issue of substance addiction? The Prez has an addiction. Period. Fortunately, it’s to a substance that doesn’t cause one’s perception of reality to be altered (much). And it’s legal.

  23. 23
    BDeevDad says:

    I wonder how many of these assholes also smoke cigars regularly as they are just as bad, if not worse than a rare cigarette.

  24. 24
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    @DougJ:

    To be completely candid, as much as I’m not interested in candidates’ personal lives, I would have liked to know more about Bush’s alcohol problem. I think it’s a reasonable thing to want to know about a candidate.

    It was a little frustrating, not knowing if he was going to meetings or if he was a dry drunk, or if (as I strongly suspected) he was drinking the entire time he was in office.

    We know he was drinking by 2007 or so, there are pictures of it. But for the majority of the crisis, we never knew for sure if the guy steering the ship of state onto the rocks was drunk, or just dry-drunk. That was a little maddening.

  25. 25
    Andy K says:

    As someone who hasn’t had a drink in over four years, but who still smokes about a pack of Reds a day (down from 2+ a day when I was drinking) , I’d say that it’s a lot easier giving up the former than the latter.

    And I’ll add that I feel much more stigmatized as a smoker than I ever did as a drinker, or as someone who openly admits to his alcoholism. So to me, Cooper’s words are a bit hollow.

  26. 26
    grimc says:

    From the wiki entry on Nicotine Anonymous:

    The first meetings began in February 1982 in Southern California by several Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members to focus specifically on smoking cessation.

    Adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., the Twelve Traditions are utilized by Nicotine Anonymous as fundamental guiding principles.

  27. 27
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Okay, totally off-topic, but thought folks might be interested in this little tidbit from Gerald Walpin’s past:

    NYT: Walpin an “embarrassment” to DOJ for “mishandling” Roy Cohn case

    (Disclaimer: it’s a GOS link, don’t know if that’s a problem.)

  28. 28
    ericvsthem says:

    I haven’t seen anything by Matt Cooper on TPM for months. Even though he is still listed as editor-at-large, it’s not clear what his association is with TPM.

  29. 29
    Ed in NJ says:

    You have to be a special kind of moron to not understand smoking is an addiction, very much like drugs, alcohol, gambling.

    Of course, it would require some intelligence to see that Obama is empathizing with smokers who struggle even after they’ve quit.

  30. 30

    You wished he’d just said that he struggled with it and not gotten into specifics or alchoholism metaphors.

    I did? I’m pretty sure I didn’t. I would have remembered that, you presumptuous ass.

  31. 31
    MikeJ says:

    I haven’t seen anything by Matt Cooper on TPM for months. Even though he is still listed as editor-at-large, it’s not clear what his association is with TPM.

    April 20 was the last post I could find. I had a dim recollection that JMM had a post saying Cooper was gone, but I couldn’t find it.

    Unrelatedly, are the hamsters that power the Balloon Juice server on strike?

  32. 32
    kay says:

    It sounded exactly like how ordinary people discuss their battles with smoking.
    How many times have you heard a hedged elaborate explanation on smoking? Tens of times?
    They yearn for a hero to worship, these guys. Anytime the president sounds like a human being instead of The President they get all flustered and rudderless. They should grow up. He’s a person, with faults and quirks.

  33. 33

    Why is this silly-assed topic threadworthy?

    Oh, taking roll.

  34. 34
    greynoldsct00 says:

    Where is John Cole?

    Guess actually went Galt without telling us he was going Galt, which is when he tends to post prolifically…

  35. 35
    kay says:

    Obama can be preachy. It’s probably a good thing he has such a wildly socially unacceptable habit .

    He’d be tempted to preach on not smoking, and that would just expose a different fault.

  36. 36
    robertdsc says:

    Where is John Cole?

    Tunch finally got his revenge.

  37. 37
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @greynoldsct00:

    It’s opposite day again.

  38. 38
    JK says:

    OT

    FUCK John McCain!!

    Note to MSM: John McCain lost the fucking election. Get over this obnoxious, egotistical cocksucker.

  39. 39
    bvac says:

    The only thing I find odd is that a journalist used the words “weird” and “odd” three times to describe a few remarks from the president about his struggles with smoking, which directly answered the question asked of him. What the fuck?

  40. 40
    Ash says:

    OT: So, uh, the Sanford story just keeps getting more strange….

    On Tuesday, sources told News 4’s Nigel Robertson that a state vehicle is missing and was tracked down, not to the Appalachian Trail, but to the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. Sources told Robertson that a federal agent spotted Sanford in the airport boarding a plane. Robertson was told that the governor was not accompanied by security detail.

    http://www.wyff4.com/news/19837234/detail.html

  41. 41
    MikeJ says:

    Matt Cooper:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....itzers.php

    Taken as a whole, though, the [Pulitzer] prizes seem a little odd.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....oponte.php

    He’d been at the U.N. dealing with Mideast issues as part of his tenure there but that’s not the kind of specific expertise Graham and McCain seem to want. It’s all very odd.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....d-hill.php

    In general the country’s supported the idea that senior State Department officials can move around the world and not have to prove their credentials each time they’re assigned to a new region. McCain and Graham are imposing a new standard that seems odd.

    The man is Mulder and Scully rolled into one. Everything is sooo odd.

  42. 42
    jayackroyd says:

    According to his testimony in the Libby trial, he also granted Rove default anonymity. Which means, of course, that he grants everybody default anonymity….

  43. 43
    Adrienne says:

    around all you goddamned oh-so-sensitive pearl clutching assholes who fall down in overdramatized asthmatic fits at the slightest hint of the smell of a cigarette,

    I am one of those and I actually AM asthmatic. My mother smoked a pack a day when I was young and I’ve had asthma since I was ten and been hospitalized on more than one occasions.

    When you have asthma that’s triggered by smoke your fucking lungs burn and you wheeze and you cough and it’s a bitch to deal with – asthma pumps, steroids, peak flow monitors, lung output measurements, nebulizer treatments, etc, etc, etc – all caused by gross shit with which people like you get to choose to not only poison yourself but poison OTHER people with. So, on behalf of all oh-so-sensitive pearl clutching assholes everywhere – Double fuck yourself with a rusty screwdriver.

  44. 44
    Montysano says:

    “President Obama: when the formidable Lindsey Graham speaks, do you tremble, do you soil yourself, or is it both?”

    Morons.

  45. 45
    bvac says:

    @MikeJ: Odd is the new interesting.

  46. 46
    patrick says:

    @Andy K:

    Agreed.

    Also: Yes.

  47. 47
    Bud says:

    I finally went to AA to quit drinking for good a year ago. I can honestly say that nicotine is far more addictive than alcohol, and Obama’s statements are correct.

    I was sober years ago when Bush was running for the White House, and while I fell off the wagon during his presidency (can you blame me?) I was always pissed off at the way Bush used quitting booze and drugs as some sort of purifying fire that erased all of his shitty behavior from his past.

    And like someone else on this thread, I saw plenty of video evidence that Bush was drunk in the final years of his presidency. Although there are obviously fraudulant videos on YouTube where they slowed down his speech to make him sound drunk, the one that most clearly shows he was tanked was the night before the election of Virginia’s governor in 2005. He wouldn’t have passed the most basic roadside sobriety test.

  48. 48
    JenJen says:

    I’m having trouble loading the site today. Is it just me?

    Just finished watching some of the presser from today. TPM has a fantastic video here, of all the best “zing the press” moments. Oh my, Jake Tapper looks a wee bit pissed off, does he not? And I gotta say, I love having a smart POTUS who is also a terrific debater. He handled the “but but but private insurers say you’ll run them out of business!” question perfectly… paraphrasing… “On one hand, we always hear that the private marketplace is superior to the public sector, but now you’re saying the private sector is worried the government health care plan will be so good, it will run them out of business? That defies logic.”

    Sigh. Is this guy really the President? I swear, it really hasn’t sunk in yet. He handles the media quite well, and not in that pissy way Dubya did, either.

  49. 49
    Nellcote says:

    Watching/reading post presser remarks by MSM types, it seems they’ve all let loose their inner drama critic, clutched pearls included.

  50. 50
    Ash says:

    @JenJen: It’s going slow sometimes for me too, JenJen.

  51. 51
    The Moar You Know says:

    Double fuck yourself with a rusty screwdriver.

    @Adrienne: Hey! That wasn’t very good advice at all! It’s painful and now I’ve got anal tetanus!

  52. 52
    JenJen says:

    Maybe it’s because I’ve actually hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail (I do not mean that metaphorically, unlike Sanford), and don’t live too, too far from a trailhead, but doesn’t Atlanta seem an odd place from which to embark on the Appalachian?

    Sanford Sighting at Atlanta Airport – TPM

    This story just gets better and better.

  53. 53
    Cassidy says:

    @Adrienne: Was gonna go to bed, but I think I’ll go have another smoke. Good ol’ American Spirit, roll your own. Hopefully I’ll get my package tommorrow and can smoke my pipe.

  54. 54
    BDeevDad says:

    What everyone is forgetting is alcoholism is a disease and smoking is a habit in today’s society.

  55. 55
    d0n Camillo says:

    I tell you what, if Obama manages to get the public health option through the Senate and keeps our economy from imploding, he can set up a fucking hookah bar in the Oval Office for all I care. Maybe Matt Cooper needs a good old fashioned layoff coupled with losing his health insurance to put things back into perspective. Let’s see what kinds of questions he’d want asked at the next presidential press conference.

  56. 56
    Catsy says:

    I have always liked TPM, but on occasion the content there tends towards the “mountains out of molehills” variety. I understand that this comes with the territory of muckraking, and that they’d be far less effective or interesting if not for that, but usually I just roll my eyes and move on if that’s the case.

  57. 57
    Little Dreamer says:

    What the hell? How is it strange at all to compare quitting smoking to quitting drinking? And everyone I know who smokes tries to avoid smoking in front of their kids.

    I wish you knew my mother. I was raised in a smoke filled house. The only way it became safer to live in was when we got a much bigger (three times bigger) house.

    I tried to keep the smoking away from my own kids. In that respect I’m the first generation of my family to do so. I would go to my grandparents as a child and it wasn’t much different, just the addition of cherry tobacco smoke from my grandfather’s pipe also permeated the air.

  58. 58
    WereBear says:

    Thanks for link re: press conference.

    Love it!

    About time someone didn’t treat stupid questions as if they weren’t stupid.

  59. 59
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    May I just say ditto, and leave it at that?

  60. 60
    Ash Can says:

    @JenJen: I saw that too. That Sanford was seen boarding a plane in Atlanta is the only detail so far that’s made any sense whatsoever. Off writing? Yeah, right. Hiking? Please.

    Now the only thing to figure out is whether it involved money, sex, or both.

  61. 61
    JenJen says:

    @Ash Can: I’m sayin’! And it’s intriguing that he was supposedly spotted at ATL by a “federal agent.” You know, when a Governor, the Chief Executive of a State, goes AWOL, is that a national security issue? Maybe? Would there be concerns of blackmailing, kidnapping, extortion, what have you?

    Hell, I don’t know, but I don’t think this is one of those tinfoil hat things; this story just gets crazier and crazier for real.

  62. 62
    maya says:

    I can understand Matt Cooper covering this most obscure point of the presser, because that way he’s guaranteed a niche for himself covering something that nobody else would ever think of covering.

    The opposite of this cunning approach happened when it was reveled that GWB had told his cabinet to,”Find me a way to get into Iraq”, 10 days after taking office. Nobody covered it because they all thought one of the other guys surely would.

    Matt just doesn’t want to make that mistake again.

  63. 63
    Jennifer says:

    @JenJen:
    Actually, Atlanta is very near the southern end of the trail. It ends (or begins) at Kennesaw Mountain, about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta.

    I grew up just a few miles – like only 3 or 4 – from there.

  64. 64
    Redshift says:

    When Cooper started at TPMDC, he put up some posts with his usual sort of schtick and got a general reaction in the comments of “Why are you wasting our time with this crap? We come here for substance.” He had some decent material, too, but way too many corporate-media-style references to anonymous sources and such, and not too long after that, he stopped posting.

  65. 65
    Anne Laurie says:

    I’ll kiss a pig under its tail…

    Oh, so now we’re talking about Matt (“Thank you, Mr. Rove”) Cooper’s strange little addiction?

  66. 66
    Jager says:

    I haven’t smoked for 23 years and I still think about having a cigarette from time to time. I’ve read that nicotine addiction is the strongest of all…it took me about 20 tries before I quit. I was involved in a very complex business deal 14 years ago, I bought a pack of Merits one afternoon…smoked about 10 in a row, the nicotine felt great. My girlfriend at the time, threatened to cut me off…I didn’t finish the pack, Thank You Sheila! I can sympathize with the President, big time.

  67. 67

    […] (Balloon-Juice #2 … who does as poorly at reading comprehension as BJ #1 does at communication that doesn’t involve the use of the word “asshole” … thinks weirdness is Cooper’s main point. It is the title, but better than three-quarters of the post addresses substantive aspects of the press conference before Cooper gets to the “AA” weirdness. BJ #2 has a point though. It was pretty mild as O weirdness goes. See above for your Obama weirdness starter kit.) […]

  68. 68
    BC says:

    Yes, I quit cold turkey in 1984 – hardest thing I ever did. I have talked to people who have recovered from alcohol and drug addictions and every one says kicking the tobacco habit is much more difficult than the other addictions. I still dream about smoking – and that’s a good dream. I stay away from the cigarettes, just know that all it would take is one and I’d be back to a pack a day.

  69. 69
    Glocksman says:

    I smoked a pack a day from 1986 to June 2000.
    My mother died on March 29, 2000, and she made me promise to quit smoking before she died.

    It took a few months before I worked up the fortitude to do so for good, but on June 5, 2000 I smoked my last Marlboro.

    That said, I’m not a ‘tobacco nazi’ and really don’t care if you smoke around me.
    If you’re smoking decent tobacco products, that is.
    Smoke the cheapest sub generic cigarettes around me and I’ll raise hell until you quit, as they fucking stink.

    Marlboros, Winstons, Camels, etc., I could care less as the smell from ‘top tier’ cigarettes doesn’t literally make me sick.

    The odor from a lot of the cheap smokes does make me sick.

    Back to the topic, if my mother hadn’t made me promise to quit, I’d still be smoking today.
    Bravo to Obama for making his struggle to quit public.
    I had several ‘false starts’ before I quit for good in June 2000, so I have an idea of what he went/is going through.

  70. 70

    What the fuck ever. I liked his response. It was truthful and thoughtful. I smoke once a month when I go out with my best friend. I have three-five ciggies and one drink. Do I feel guilty? Not in the least. My own freaking doctor–love her, by the way–told me that smoking one cigarette a day isn’t a big deal. So, if the prez is grabbing a ciggie here and there and can keep it to that, then so be it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] (Balloon-Juice #2 … who does as poorly at reading comprehension as BJ #1 does at communication that doesn’t involve the use of the word “asshole” … thinks weirdness is Cooper’s main point. It is the title, but better than three-quarters of the post addresses substantive aspects of the press conference before Cooper gets to the “AA” weirdness. BJ #2 has a point though. It was pretty mild as O weirdness goes. See above for your Obama weirdness starter kit.) […]

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