Jewish World Review Oct 4, 2011 / 7 Tishrei, 5772
Christie should ignore jibes on his weight
By Dale McFeatters
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There may be a lot of reasons Chris Christie should not run for president, but his weight isn't one of them.
He doesn't have that great of a political resume, much like our current president when he ran in 2008. Christie has served 20 months as governor of New Jersey and six years as the state's U.S. attorney before that, and he is conspicuously short on national and international experience.
Should he get into the race for the Republican nomination, he is well behind in building a campaign staff and state and local organizations, and in fund-raising. If he could hang on long enough, say through Iowa and New Hampshire, this kind of political machinery and financial backing could become available as other candidates drop out.
And there is always the danger that he could suffer from the "flavor of the month" syndrome, like with Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and, likely soon, Herman Cain, and sink in the polls once the novelty has worn off.
But Christie has a refreshingly blunt and plainspoken style that makes for an inspiring contrast with the weaselly evasions and circumlocutions that his potential rivals have shown during the debates. And, unlike his rivals, he doesn't seem to be slavishly beholden to a cadre of single-issue special-interest groups.
If he doesn't run, he's certainly a possibility for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket, and if President Barack Obama should win re-election, Christie, 49, would be well positioned to be the GOP nominee in 2016.
But time and again when a possible candidacy is mentioned, a question about his weight arises. He is a big man -- even a fat man. His weight looks to be close to 300 pounds, and it fluctuates by 30 or 40 pounds as he battles it -- as, he says, he has all of his life.
As his political popularity grows, so do the attacks on his weight, which also happened when he ran for governor against a trim Wall Street magnate. The usually genial columnist Eugene Robinson said, patronizingly, that Christie "should eat a salad and go for a walk." Columnist Michael Kinsley said Christie "cannot be president: He is just too fat." Further, he wrote, Christie's weight problem is "just a too-perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch."
We can't speak to his appetite, which is clearly good, but throughout his career he has shown himself to be a disciplined individual, even allowing for his periodic outbreaks of candor.
Not to be flip about it, but Christie has a ready-made political base: One-third of American adults are obese and another one-third are overweight. Are people seriously arguing that two-thirds of American adults are unfit to be president?
Christie is often compared to another politician, William Howard Taft, at 335 pounds our heaviest president, famous for once having gotten stuck in a White House bathtub.
But Taft, for all of his size, led a vigorous life and had a distinguished career before becoming president -- governor of Cuba and, later, the Philippines, secretary of war and solicitor general. He went on to an even more distinguished career after the White House as chief justice of the United States for nine years. He died in 1930 at age 72, well past the then-life expectancy for American men of just less than 60 years.
Being inured by a lifetime of fat jokes may actually be good training for the constant abuse that a president must take. Run if you like, Governor. Don't let your girth, if you'll excuse the expression, weigh in your decision.
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