I wish I could say I was kidding with that headline, but I’m not. With speculation about a potential Gov. Chris Christie Presidential bid running rampant, two prominent ‘inclusive’ liberal columnists took it upon themselves over the last couple of days to argue that it’s ok to discriminate against a candidate … as long as it’s on the basis of their weight. Ironicially, another prominent liberal columnist came to Christie’s defense. Of Michael Kinsley’s and Eugene Robinson’s respective diatribes, Jonathain Chait writes:
Eugene Robinson writes today in the Washington Post that Christie’s weight inhibits his ability to serve as president. Michael Kinsley, writing in Bloomberg View, goes farther, calling it an outright disqualification. Neither of these (generally excellent) columnists offers much beyond overclass social bias.
Robinson argues that Christie is too fat to perform his job optimally, citing one episode of Christie being hospitalized for asthma. If that were true, you’d see it in his tenure as governor. But Robinson doesn’t argue that Christie failed to tackle his gubernatorial duties with sufficient vigor. How could you argue that? Like him or not, Christie has undoubtedly enjoyed overwhelming success in moving through his agenda and carrying out a taxing regimen of browbeating and insulting skeptical New Jersey-ites.
Robinson edges toward what I suspect is the deeper belief at work, urging Christie to follow the example of others who have lost weight. The premise here is that weight is a marker of personal discipline, and anybody who’s fat must simply be too lazy to take care of themselves.
Kinsley more explicitly casts Christie’s weight as a moral failing, arguing, “a presidential candidate should be judged on behavior and character, not just on policies.” It’s pretty jarring to see somebody openly make the case that being fat is a sign of poor character. It certainly helps make Campos’s case that there’s a moral panic afoot.
He calls Christie’s weight “a too-perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch.” (I don’t agree that this is the problem right now, but never mind.) He goes on to concede that Christie has in fact reduced the budget deficit, which seems hard to deny. Doesn’t this blow that argument out of the water, then? Kinsley concludes, strangely:
“[Christie] certainly makes all the right noises about fiscal discipline and seems to have done well so far as governor of New Jersey. Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first.”
But why would it help? Why does his weight matter at all? The only real reasoning I see here is that American elites view obesity with disgust, and they’re repulsed at the notion that a very fat guy could rise to a position of symbolic leadership. It’s not a very attractive sentiment.
I wonder if Robinson believes that overweight members of Congress should resign? How about the handicapped (should FDR have been disqualified?)? And what about people who have a smoking problem like, say oh – President Barack Obama? NRO’s Greg Pollowitz quips:
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.”
I’m being sarcastic above.
And as long as we’re talking about “moral failings” being a disqualifier I wonder if Kinsley was a big defender of Bubba Clinton during the various SexGates that happened before and after he became POTUS? How about during any of the other various left wing sex scandals that have hit over the last couple of decades? There really aren’t many more – if any - greater moral failings in my book than cheating on your spouse (and/or neglecting your children)
Just how far would either of them go with their respective arguments about “moral failings” and “physical disclipline”? I suspect not very, because assuming the GOP wins the Presidency next year, four years from then there will be Democrats lining up to defeat the GOP President, and those contenders just might not square up into the “fit” bubbles in which Robinson and Kinsley both currently reside. And God help if ANY of them were ever criticized on the basis of their respective weights. Can you imagine the outcry?
Of course – to borrow an oft-repeated classic quote , “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Or, in this case, it depends on the meaning of “fit.” To liberal elites like Eugene Robinson and Michael Kinsley, being physically unfit (read: obese) should disqualify you from the Oval Office … provided you’re a Republican. In my humble little opinion, though, I think being philosophically unfit (read: Socialistic) should be a disqualfier. But unlike Robinson and Kinsley, I believe it should be decided at the ballot box by voters, not by smug pundits who live in glass houses and ivory towers. But that’s just me …