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.