Chris Christie Is Fat. Who Cares?

No matter what his scale reads, the New Jersey governor’s weight has nothing to do with his ability to be the next president

Until CNN reports that Chris Christie has gotten himself stuck in a bathtub, I don’t want to hear another word about his weight. The media’s obsession with Christie’s excess poundage has gotten out of hand. (For evidence, click here, here, here, here, here and here.) Yes, the New Jersey governor can and should slim down. But would it impede his ability to be the President of the United States of America? Absolutely not—and we have history to prove it.

It didn’t matter in 1909 when Americans elected Willian Howard Taft, who was rumored to have gotten his caboose lodged in the White House clawfoot. And it didn’t matter when we voted for Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt or Bill Clinton—all of ‘em porkers, all of ‘em two-term presidents. In fact, some studies show that overweight male politicians are deemed more trustworthy than their thin counterparts. (Sorry, ladies, you still need to be skinny to win.)

We are not a country of slim people. That’s a pretty big problem, but it does not weigh as heavily on my mind as, say, unemployment, poverty, war and the loons who think Planned Parenthood promotes abortion. I don’t agree with all—hell, even most—of Christie’s political views on those issues, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that it’s not because of his weight.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson asserted on Friday that Christie’s weight inhibits his ability to serve as president. He offers lots of facts and stats about the dangers of obesity and ways to prevent, but no evidence that it would render him an ineffective national leader. Same with Bloomberg columnist Michael Kinsey, who admits his attitude is “discriminatory.”

Those claiming Christie would be unable to run the country because of his weight claim that he’s too unhealthy and a risk for America, which basically translates to: “He’s so fat that he might have a heart attack and die while in office.”

This is a fair point, but a weak one when you consider that President Obama’s smoking habit—and the potential for lung cancer and emphysema—didn’t cause quite the same level of discontent. (And imagine the outrage if the media encouraged voters to rally against Ted Kennedy, one of the hardest-drinking pols in recent memory.) In response to those who claim that physical health is necessary to run the country, I offer you three letters: FDR.

I don’t support Christie’s policies and there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of reasons why I don’t think he should be our next President. But none of them come down to a number on the scale. Historically speaking, there’s no evidence that a fat man—or even an obese one—can’t run our country. So let’s just shut up about it already.

Click here to read Philadelphia magazine’s December 2010 profile of Christie.

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  • National Health

    The National Health would beg to differ.

    It’s one thing to be large. It’s quite another to be on death’s door. Now, I’m not saying he’d keel over with an MI while in office, but this man is the POTUS! He sends a message about America both across our country and around the world. And I’m not just talking about public image – I’m talking about policy. Our nation is facing an obesity epidemic. It’s probably the biggest health problem people neglect just saying “oh it’s a little fat.”

    The person I want to helm my country should have good policy ready to go to combat this. He would be laughed away if he tried to make combatting obesity a priority. You say that obesity doesn’t weigh on your conscience the same way other programs do. Well I return that assertion with a question: what does unemployment matter when record numbers of Americans are dying from conditions that plague the obese. They call it “morbidly obese” for a reason. It has a higher morbidity associated with it.

    The POTUS is an example, to little kids who one day dream of being in that position, to Americans who want to better themselves. It’s not the #1 issue – and I agree, I think he’s a quack anyway – but it CERTAINLY isn’t a non-issue. The happy medium usually lies somewhere between the hyperbole.

  • Reggie Carlton

    This is a media obsession with weight, voters don’t care they want someone intelligent.

  • kinoblau

    Chris Christie has repeatedly said he’s not running for President. So this conversation about his weight effecting his ability to govern is absolutely irrelevant.

  • Christie’s weight is most certainly an issue – for now, it’s an issue for New Jersey residents. If he runs for President, it’s an issue for all voters.

    Last spring, Christie was rushed to the hospital due to shortness of breath. A spokesperson said that the emergency was related to Christie’s asthma: “He carries an inhaler with him,” this source told NBC New York. He also noted that the governor’s weight doesn’t help his health issues.”

    The taxpayers of New Jersey had to foot the bill not just for the Governor’s hospitalization, but for the security and administration issues related to running the state from a hospital bed.

    Christie knows he has health issues that are made worse by his obesity. Yet he allows himself to endanger not just his life, but the well-being of the state he was elected to serve.

    This is irresponsible and reckless. He is overweight and out of control.

  • Rumplestilskin

    Even if we ignore his avoirdupois, he is still arrogant and disrespectful to those who PAY HIS SALARY. His attitude toward voters/taxpayers who ask him questions is atrocious. Do we really want this clown running the country??

  • Mark Cofta

    Looks, including weight, matter in our society. NPR did a piece last week on a study showing that better-looking people earn more money than those not naturally attractive. Especially choosing a president, our national figurehead: we want someone who looks “presidential.” We have certain unwritten height, weight, age, and looks requirements that affect our choices, and these are really difficult to overcome.

    Sadly, we have a sliding scale for intelligence or integrity.

    Consciously or not, many people will discount Christie because of his girth, which is a shame … since there are so many other reasons NOT to vote for him!

  • Bonnie Benjamin

    So far, considering all the good looking, athletic looking politicians in their $1000+ suits with nothing to say, I’d rather take my chances on the guy with the gut, AND the guts, to get out there and say it like it is and wake up America!! We need someone than can roll up his sleeves and get to work on our country’s issue, take on the whiney politicians and bottom feeders that don’t want to rock their boat and who don’t give a dam about this country as a whole. Complacency is OUTDATED….no more smooth talkers need apply.