Jim Kenney’s Mean Girl 101

Are weight jokes the best we can do with Chris Christie?

Jim Kenney, Chris Christie

Jim Kenney, Chris Christie

Like most people who were tweeting from the Linc on Sunday night, I’m going to assume that Councilman Jim Kenney wasn’t putting much thought into his 140 characters.

An Eagles fan, the possible mayoral candidate was annoyed when he spotted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie snuggling up to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the skybox. Here’s what that looks like:

Admittedly, part of me likes that a Philly politician would not only publish those tweets but defend them. Councilman Kenney – who has a history of Twitter tantrums – didn’t take them down, explaining, “I have a big nose and he has a fat ass. Just as life deals you.”

But, as much as I enjoy Philadelphia’s unique brand of feisty real-talk, I can’t help but think the same thing I think every time someone attacks Christie for his weight: Kenney sounds like an idiot, and he probably needs a hug.

Because, no, this is not a simple, plain observation about his appearance. Like all of the commentary about Christie’s size, Kenney’s tweet implies that his weight makes him a “creep,” and somehow unfit for his job. Like our fixation on Hillary Clinton’s hair and pantsuits, it’s an ugly insight into what we think someone in power should look like.

While the Internet’s LadyPatrol would reach across the aisle and demand heads if Christie were a woman, we’re strangely OK with letting a man get picked apart. But if I was expected to defend Sarah Palin from baseless criticism about her appearance, sure, I can do the same for Christie.

Here’s a little Mean Girl 101: Making fun of someone’s weight is a last resort, a Hail Mary take-down attempt to be deployed only when an individual is threateningly smart, successful, popular or, God forbid, happy. It’s fairly effective in scared, isolated little communities with a sadistic streak, such as high school and the Internet.

Chris Christie, of course, is none of these things. He has repeatedly proven himself to be an impulsive bully, the kind of leader who happily accepts taxpayer-funded helicopter joy rides while yelling at teachers who have the nerve to ask for petty luxuries like health benefits, pensions and safe, well-stocked classrooms. For God’s sake, this man is from New Jersey and likes Texas.

There is plenty of material here, an embarrassment of riches, and yet we keep coming back to his weight when attempting to make a point about his shortcomings. Even Jon Stewart and David Letterman – people who are professionally, creatively mean, who have made careers out of their smart, pointed humor – can’t resist the easy weight taunt.

Which worries me. Are his opponents really that insecure? Because although I think Christie would be fun to watch a football game with, I sure as hell don’t want to see him make any real moves towards the presidency, and I was hoping we had something better than fat jokes to stop him.

If you actually do have a problem with Christie’s weight (which is weird, stop that), you can relax – it may very well stall his career without additional teasing. As Kate Upton’s new “Game of War” campaign has taught us, the way you look affects your job prospects (I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume the swimsuit model didn’t land that gig because of her affinity for the brand or superior horse-riding skills). Christie’s size may have already cost him, as Romney was reported to have balked at the idea of having an overweight running mate in 2012.

I’m not suggesting that we stop making fun of Christie’s weight simply because it’s not nice and he has feelings (although this is true, and it would make our kindergarten teachers proud). But I do think that it comes across as desperate, and weakens valid arguments against a man who, yes, is a creep.

Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter.