September 30th, 2011

Right on schedule…

…here come the “Christie’s too fat to be president” articles (here and here).

From the latter:

Unfortunately, the symbolism of Christie’s weight problem goes way past the issue of obesity itself. It is just a too-perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch.

There’s just a wee bit of trouble with that metaphor—actually, it’s Christie who’s trying to rein in the appetites of the public sector and unions in New Jersey, and to install fiscal discipline.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar had a different way to look at it:

CAESAR

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

ANTONY

Fear him not, Caesar; he’s not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman and well given.

CAESAR

Would he were fatter! But I fear him not:
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock’d himself and scorn’d his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart’s ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.

29 Responses to “Right on schedule…”

  1. mizpants Says:

    Go, Chris! His obesity will be a uniting factor. Fatness is the great American common denominator.
    Do you still think he’s not running, Neo? I think he is. I sure hope so.

  2. CV Says:

    Yep, right on schedule. Even a bit early, I’d say.

    I liked what Greg Pollowitz had to say about Robinson’s (typically vapid) column over on NRO:

    “So President Obama’s smoking is a legitimate issue? Then the president needs to prove, with an independent nicotine test, that he’s cigarette free, no? And under Robinson’s logic, should we not test the president for cocaine as well? If smoking is a legitimate issue, then the president’s admitted past hard drug use should be as well. Maybe monthly drug testing? Cocaine use “exacerbates everything.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/media-blog/278797/eugene-robinson-christie-too-fat-be-president-greg-pollowitz

    As one of the commenters pointed out, “Corzine tried to campaign on Christie’s weight. We know where that got him.”

    Honestly, this is just a taste of what’s to come if Christie surprises everyone and jumps in. He’s tough enough to take it, but maybe he’s trying to spare his family right now. His kids are pretty young.

  3. John Dough Says:

    The question remains… Did Cassius get Ceasar’s salad dressing recipe before he killed him?

  4. SteveH Says:

    I agree with Abe Lincoln. The people without vices are the same ones with little virtue.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    I see the Party has now issued directives to the apparatchiks on where to direct their fire.

  6. Occam's Beard Says:

    Do you still think he’s not running, Neo? I think he is. I sure hope so.

    Given his weight, maybe he should start out walking, and work his way up to running.

    And CV, I too agree with Pollowitz. We now have the first certified crackhead in the White House. (Could you tell? Of course you could.) Why isn’t he required to take a monthly urinalysis test? How do we know he’s not back on the pipe, a la Marion Barry?

  7. gs Says:

    1. I always took that passage to mean that Caesar assessed fat guys as unlikely rivals. We don’t want a dictator, but we do want someone who has what it takes to lead.

    2. Maybe (or not) Clinton’s promiscuity, Obama’s smoking, and Christie’s overeating are merely offshoots of the kind of gigantic ego that seeks the Presidency.

    3. I read that Christie’s NJ popularity has dropped. If he considers his reelection prospects to be dubious, could a Presidential run be an up-or-out maneuver.

    4. Someone who is unreelectable in their own state is not the most promising of nominees. The GOP field includes: Romney, who was too timid to run for reelection in MA; Gingrich, whose truncated record as Speaker was mixed; and Santorum, an inept former senator who was defeated for reelection. There’s Christie. And of course there is She Who Prances In The Wings, whose popularity in AK is low.

    Hmph.

    5. Off-topic cheap shot: Jon Huntsman strikes me as an LDS version of Jimmy Carter.

  8. T Says:

    Isn’t it amazing how the tolerant left consistently parades their intolerance of all un-left?

    What amazes me about the critics of Christie’s weight is that they take as a given that the ONLY reason one is overweight is because they eat too much. There is no consideration at all for hormonal or chemical imbalance or other possible medical issues; one is fat only because one is a glutton (as evinced in the quote cited in the post).

    I don’t recall any criticism of Charlie Rangal’s weight. It’s just another way to catalyze criticism of the non-left. Just as Janeanne Garofolo’s latest screed was Republicans only support Herman Cain because they’re racist and criticize Barack Obama because they’re racist!!!!????

  9. Bill West Says:

    I’m reminded of Charles Laughton in ‘Sparticus’, speaking to Peter Ustinov:

    “You and I have a tendency towards corpulence. Corpulence makes a man reasonable, pleasant and phlegmatic. Have you noticed the nastiest of tyrants are invariably thin?”

  10. mizpants Says:

    It would be a great step for this country to elect a fat president, a sign that we were able to transcend the monstrous superficiality of our culture.

  11. Libby Says:

    Not only is this blatantly intolerant, Lefties rarely condemn their own for their corpulence. It’s not Just Charlie Rangel, there’s also Jerrold Nadler, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, etc.

    Can you imagine if Republicans mentioned Hillary’s weight as a reason she was unfit for office? In her current position she’s a representative of the US – does her recent weight gain have some symbolic significance then?

  12. mizpants Says:

    I know, I know.The line is “no, it’s not a superficial matter. It’s his health!”
    I’d rather take a chance with Christie’s actuarial risk than have to accept a physically fit cipher like Romney.

  13. expat Says:

    Neo,

    Churchill didn’t look like he spent much time on a treadmill. He drank, smoked cigars, and spent lots of time working in bed. In most pictures of him (middle age on), he is wearing a coat so it’s hard to tell where he stopped and the clothing started. At any rate, he did OK.

  14. webutante Says:

    Well, okay, I sorta agree and sorta don’t.

    Personally, I like Christie. I believe in restoring fiscal discipline…check, check. Churchill did well with his lifestyle.

    And the reality is Christie seems morbidly obese and it could affect his health and life span at any point. I would be very concerned if he ran and got the nomination at this point. To me the concerns voiced are indeed valid.

  15. Bob T Says:

    I look forward to the debates. It will be as if Laurel were debating Hardy!

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    webutante: a slightly increased statistical risk (which is what Christie, who is only borderline obese, would supposedly run) is only important in terms of large numbers of people. It has virtually no predictive value for the health of a single individual. When evaluating candidates, we can only pay attention to their actual health.

    I well remember that in 2000, when Cheney was elected VP, I thought for sure he’d never survive four years let alone eight, and certainly not if the years were especially stressful. And yet I was completely wrong about that. And I was not evaluating him on actuarial risk, but his own terrible health history which gave him a pretty poor prognosis. But he defied the prognosis.

    Churchill, as many have pointed out, had a number of supposed risk factors but lived to be 90, and was PM for the last time at the age of 80.

    We don’t know Christie’s weight, but by my calculations, at 5’11′ and about 320 (estimate by me) he would be right on the cusp as far as BMI goes between overweight and obese. Mortality is most pronounced for the very obese (and for the quite underweight, by the way, although no one complains when a candidate is thin), and especially for those who have a large protruding gut. Christie’s weight, interestingly enough, appears to be rather evenly distributed, if you look at full-body photos of him. At any rate, the point is that his increased risk would be rather small, and a statistical aberration that would be not particularly helpful in predicting his actual health status while in office. More important would be learning whether he currently has any health problems (I have not read much about that)—and even then, as with Cheney, it is still a crapshoot to try to predict the course of any particular individual’s health.

  17. George Pal Says:

    Especially for those who have a large protruding gut and in keeping with Neo’s Caesar, and Bill West’s Charles Laughton’s Sempronius Gracchus (what a great name – if that doesn’t translate to ‘eternally abdonimous’, it should) here is W H Auden on John Falstaff:

    A fat man looks like a cross between a very young child and a pregnant mother. The Greeks thought of Narcissus as a slender youth, but I think they were wrong. I see him as a middle-aged man with a corporation, for, however ashamed he may be of displaying it in public, in private a man with a belly loves it dearly–it may be an unprepossessing child to look at, but he’s borne it all by himself.

    There’s no knowing whether all fat men are jolly but they do all seem content; and a contented man, though not a thing of beauty, does seem a joy forever, to those around him at least.

  18. mizpants Says:

    Neo,
    Christie is only borderline obese? I’m a big fan of his, but I have to say that he is way over the borderline. Do you mean borderline morbidly obese?
    And I’m dying to know if you’ve changed your opinion about the likelihood of his running.

  19. webutante Says:

    Well, again I hope I’m wrong. Yes, no one thought Cheney would survive one, let alone TWO terms….

    What saved Churchill—and no doubt added to his weight—was his brandy which thinned his blood. If Christie drinks a glass of red wine or has a little brandy and a stoogie on a regular basis, then I might think his odds are better. Otherwise, no way…..and I hope I’m wrong….I am a lot.

  20. webutante Says:

    And one other parting shot re life span….Cheney is a passionate fly fisherman…..need I say more?

  21. Artfldgr Says:

    How long before they mention Taft?

    Taft was 5 feet 11.5 inches tall He weighed 243 pounds when he graduated from college and, by all accounts, carried it well. By age 48, when he had been Secretary of War for two years, he weighed 320 pounds Under the guidance of English physician Dr. N. E. Yorke-Davies, he lost 70 pounds over the next year and a half But two years after that, he was once again over 300 pounds He weighed 335-340 pounds when he left the White House He then lost weight rapidly, dropping to 270 in a year and a half. The summer before he died, he weighed 244 pounds, just one pound more than his college weight.

    he was the 16th amendment man…

  22. Gringo Says:

    As Allan Sherman explains to us in Hail to Thee, Fat Person, a fat person has an edge up in foreign policy.

    I would like to explain how it came to pass that I got fat.
    Ladies and gentlemen, I got fat as a public service.
    When I was a child, my mother said to me,
    “Clean the plate, because children are starving in Europe.”
    And I might point out that that was years before the Marshall Plan
    was ever heard of.
    So I would clean the plate, four, five, six times a day.
    Because somehow I felt that that would keep the children from starving
    in Europe.
    But I was wrong. They kept starving. And I got fat.
    So I would like to say to every one of you who is either skinny
    or in some other way normal–
    When you walk out on the street, and you see a fat person,
    Do not scoff at that fat person. Oh no!
    Take off your hat. Hold it over your heart.
    Lift your chin up high. And in a proud, happy voice say to him,
    “Hail to thee, fat person!
    You kept us out of war!”

    Sounds as if Christie should run as a Peace Democrat. :)

    President Taft lived 17 years past his term as President, dying in 1930 at the age of 73

  23. model_1066 Says:

    Apparently, the author of the article quoted seems to think that the ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ shares his concern with identity politics, and would use such tiresome cliches such as “oppressed group”.

    And talk about projection/delusion:

    “One reason is that a presidential candidate should be judged on behavior and character, not just on policies — especially because the chance these days of any actual policies being enacted is slim. (Most of us, fortunately, aren’t judged this way — at least not in this life. But presidents are.) ”

    That is, unless the president is black-the only credential O’bumbles has that got him elected.

    Has there been any pushback to the liberal insistence that voting for the putter-in-chief somehow proves that they’re not racist? What a weak, superficial argument.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    webutante: it’s a statistical thing, and the statistics are very much in Christie’s favor whether he drinks red wine and/or brandy or not.

    Take a look at the actuarial tables. The risks of dying for a 50-54-year-old man (Christie’s age if he were to be elected in 2012) are very very small. Research indicates that if a person is obese (about 44 BMI, which is what I’ve calculated as Christie’s most likely BMI), the risk of death is several times greater, but it is still small in the absolute sense. Just as an example, if a person’s risk of dying is 1 in 1000, then if an obese person of the same age has a risk that is 5 times greater, the risk of dying for the obese person is still only 5 in 1000 (those are not the exact figures for Christie, but it’s probably something in that general neighborhood). Therefore his risk of living through a presidency is still excellent, unless he has a disease already.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    mizpants: I didn’t explain myself very well when I used the term “borderline obese.” What I really meant was that, if you look at photos of Christie, he’s fat but not what we normally think of exceedingly obese, a la shows like “The Biggest Loser.” In the medical sense, however, he is definitely obese—but so are a lot of people I don’t think of as “obese.” And they’re not dropping like flies, either.

    By the way, Christie has said he is 5’11″, but has refused to give his weight. So there’s no real way to properly ascertain his BMI. I have heard his weight widely (pun intended!) estimated as being 320. Plugging that into a BMI calculator, I got a figure slightly under 45, which would make him definitely obese in the medical sense.

    There may be other ways to figure it out and other standards to use, but that’s the way I figured it. Also, the greatest health hazards for obesity appear to occur with people who carry their weight only in the gut. Christie is all-over fat, which might make his prospects better.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    And by the way, for everybody worried about Christie’s health and his risk of dying in office, if Obama is still a smoker (which I suspect he may indeed be), his risk may be about the same as Christie’s, depending on how much he smokes.

  27. expat Says:

    I definitely think our current emphasis on fitness is tilted too far toward the physical and away from the mental. Women who are properly botoxed and fit into a certain size are considered superior to ones who actually read and try to think beyond PC limits. Quite frankly, I don’t want to associate with people who talk about little besides the trainer at their fitness studio. I doubt that many can do more than spout the clichees about carbs and transfats. It’s all about being trendy.

  28. Beverly Says:

    Before you all get excited about Christie as a candidate, you should listen to him on the Muslim problem, which he seems to think is NO problem:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y83z552NJaw

    Now contrast Herman Cain: a refreshing candor and a clear-eyed view of the danger:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDXCwd65R5o

  29. Curtis Says:

    I wanted to see if Christie was very active in sports so I read the Wiki on him. Whew. Shows the bias of Wiki!

    Except for his Muslim problem, I really like Christie. How can you not? He’s been a champion and put himself in the fight. His girth, to me, makes him more likeable and shows he excelled despite it. We all know the prejudice that abnormal people experience.

    He projects energy and health. He has four kids, is 50 years old and is a dynamo. I’ll bet 90% of the critics couldn’t keep up with him.

    But there is the Muslim problem and after our fiscal situation, it is next in importance, and we need to educate and defend, not coddle or understate.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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