THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

    As the Arizona and Michigan presidential primaries arrive, the final four Republican candidates continue their slash-and-burn tactics as they vie to take on President Obama in the fall. With former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum rising as the dominant conservative alternative to ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, there is a growing angst within the corridors of Republican power that the current crop of candidates may be sealing the eventual nominee’s fate by the negative onslaught they have waged against one another in the endless debates process. As such, the hope for a white knight to come riding to the rescue before the political landscape resembles Mad Max territory has surfaced more fervently than ever.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has categorically declared that he has no intention of offering his services if the convention in Tampa becomes either brokered or disputed. He’s not even sure he’d be considered a Republican anymore, so far has the party drifted to the right.  And ex-Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential contender Mike Huckabee recently lamented to Israeli TV that the toxic atmosphere of this year’s nomination process has soured any desire he might have had to consider stepping into the white knight’s role, as well.

The one name, however, that looms largest in Repub circles as the party’s potential savior is New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was the selection of 32% of the party faithful in a recent Quinnipiac poll asking who would be the best alternative to the current lineup of Romney, Santorum, Gingrich or Paul in a brokered convention. `08 Veep candidate Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, tied for second choice at 20% with Jeb Bush.

But despite Governor Christie’s evident charisma and charm – and likability across party lines – what is equaly evident is his sheer bulk. The elephant in the room is the elephant that Christie has allowed himself to become. At what must be 300 pounds-plus, Governor Christie is morbidly obese. And since the USA is already seen on the world stage as an indulgent, overly consumptive nation, how exactly would a Christie nomination – whether for the top spot or as a possible Romney VP choice – look? After all, what is the job of the vice-president except to be ready in case the president is incapacitated? His number one job is to be ready and fit for office. Mr. Christie isn’t fit enough to walk up the stairs to the east portico.

Obesity has become the nation’s #1 health issue, and with two-thirds of our adult population now considered overweight the ripple effect will cause a drag on the economy, health services, insurance, education, national productivity, the list goes on and on.  At age 49 Christie has already had at least one health scare following an asthma attack last summer that required a trip to the hospital. Like so many other ailments, asthma is made worst by obesity.

“This isn’t a party issue,” one fitness trainer told me. “This is a health issue. What does it say when the man has no regard for his own health? He has four children. This doesn’t just affect him. And now you want to be a leader? Are you kidding?”

Besides, with childhood obesity being such a chronic health problem in the nation, what would be the message of sending Mr. Christie into national office? “He is a very smart, able man who doesn’t have the discipline to not eat himself into a state of morbid obesity, but we want you kids to do the right thing, OK?”   Yet last fall the Maryland-based Obesity Society refused to take issue with the governor’s weight problem.

“The Obesity Society takes no position on Governor Christie’s political philosophy or record in office,” their statement read. “We do take the strongest exception, however, to assumptions about his suitability for office based on his weight.

“A person’s body weight provides no indication of an indivdual’s character, credentials, talents, leadership, or contributions to society. To suggest that Governor Christie’s body weight discounts and discredits his ability to be an effective political candidate is inappropriate, unjust and wrong.”

It’s true that size, alone, is not the sole indicator of good health.  But if you’re not around, you can hardly be an effective leader. Don’t get me wrong, President Obama hasn’t  been any better a role model as a closet smoker, but at least we didn’t see him lighting up. You can’t hide Chris Christie.  Even Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the uber-health nut on the left, never deems fit to question the governor on his girth when he comes on her show.  We’re not talking carrying a few extra pounds. This is a heart attack waiting to happen. It is a total dismissal of his number one priority to himself and his family. Running for office ought to be the last item on his agenda.  Walking and eating toward a healthy future should be #1.

Mike Huckabee was in a similar situation a decade ago. But he took control of his life, began an exercise regime, and lost over 100 pounds, and, has, for the most part, kept the weight in check. Somehow, though, it hasn’t registered strongly enough with Governor Christie.  What’s closer to the truth is he just lacks the personal discipline to push away from the table, which is especially odd coming from the Republican side of the aisle, since personal responsibility and family values are the cornerstones of their belief system.  And doesn’t it all just tie too nicely into the whole idea of the U.S. larding on $15 trillion in national debt, because we don’t have the discipline to do something about that, either? How does having a morbidly obese leader play into that?  Chris Christie would be the poster-child for the world’s opinion of what we’ve become. Do what I say, not as I do.

When asked, Mr. Christie should acknowledge his problem, defer from running for national office because of it. Then say he’ll use the time from now to 2016 to turn his own health around, and champion the cause for the nation and its children as he does.  Now that would be leadership.

END

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

  1. Toni-the concept of personal responsibility is not a Republican ideal, but rather an American one, regardless of party affiliation. With that said, we have a responsibility to look out for those who are unable to take responsibility for their own actions because they don’t have the capacity to do so, i.e. children, mentally ill, elderly, et al. However, this does not include lazy people.

    Contrary to what you say, Governor Christie is well aware of his obesity problem and appears he is taking small steps to do something about it. Watch the video

    http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/22/only-in-america-piers-morgan-on-chris-christies-weight/?hpt=pm_mid

    We runners are very intolerent of the obese. For us, we don’t understand why someone obese just doesn’t get out for a run. I don’t think it is just that easy for many of them. While running comes easy to us, for many people, including the obese, walking let alone running is very difficult. Even for me, with 7 weeks until Boston, I am still heavier than I would like to be (most of my family/friends think I am crazy when I say this when I am 6ft tall 159lbs.) However, to get under 150 by April 16th is not easy. I struggle not to eat a cookie or a slice of pizza when the opportunity presents itself.

    I am not excusing the Governor from any personal responsibility. The problem for him is that he is struggling with the process. In the video he uses the word “trying.” I have always viewed the words “try” or “trying” as weasel words. In fact, my kids have been discouraged from using the “T” words. There is too much wiggle room in “try.” It shows an absence of full commitment. However, for many, including me, it is a process and I am hopeful that he can come out soon and say something along the lines of, “I am doing my best to improve my health through improved diet and exercise.” We all are pathetic in some part of our existence and for that very reason we must demonstrate humility.

    Doug Horn

    • Doug,

      Excellent response. It is everyone’s wish that Gov. Christie find a solution to his health problem, as his talents in the political arena are too formidable to go wasted. Small steps are all any of us have in making life adjustments. It is one of the more valuable lessons that that the sport teaches us: one step at a time, one day at a time, one pound at at time, no more, no less.

      There is no reason Gov. Christie can’t win this battle. And because of his national profile, be a real role model for millions of others in the process. Win-win-win. Imagine how effective a leader he would be (to all parties) then? I wish him luck. You, too, at Boston.

    • Doug, I agree, however, while the governor is going through the ‘process’ of figuring out his health issue, he should, as Toni said; defer from running for national office and use the time from now to 2016 to turn his own health around and champion the cause for the nation and its children. Currently he is the poster-child for the world’s opinion of what we’ve become and that is not good.

  2. While I don’t believe the Governor has any intention at this time of running for a national office, i.e. President or Vice President, I do not believe he should avoid doing so solely because of his obesity. As I said earlier, we are all flawed in some shape or manner. Everyone who has held the position of President or Vice President is flawed. Is obesity any worse than smoking, cardiology issues, sexual promiscuity, blatant anti-semtism, alcoholism, etc.? By saying he must defer because of his obesity, are we saying that no one is qualified to serve as President or Vice President? Rather than disqualify him, would it not be better to encourage him? I choose encouragement. I am going to send him a greeting card encouraging him to make that commitment now. I have some political connections and will seek to connect with the Governor. If I am able to do so, can you Toni, through your significant connections in the running world help him become a role model for our great nation? By the way, for what it is worth, I am a registered Democrat and live in Florida. However, I find the Governor’s character to be refreshing.

  3. Doug,

    The difference between morbid obesity as opposed to some of the other flaws you mentioned is that it can be a widow-maker very suddenly. And the job of president is such that it would only add major stress to a system that is not properly conditioned to take it. Nor is the office the best setting to work on that issue along with every other world issue that the job requires.

    Gov. Christie has pit himself where he is, to the positive and negative, through a many-year process. He should dedicate himself to health for his own sake, that of his family, and only then, should he choose to run for national office, for the people he would wish to serve. I don’t think his obesity should DQ him, rather suggest to him that entering the arena where you know you will be put under extreme stress in such a condition is simply not a responsible position to take for evident reasons.

    The country is need of leaders of his stature, just not his size. I encourage you to do what you can to lead him in a direction where he can be of best service to himself and his country. I would be more than happy to assist in any small way that I might.

  4. Toni, you can’t say the Gov. has no discipline just by his looks.you don’t know how hard it is to lose that much weight, you have never tried! I have and still am. It is hard to keep doing that day after day for so long, it is stressing. Are fat people the only ones undisciplined? Are fat people the only ones responsible for the 15 tril debt? NO! Many thin people are undisciplined, too! RIGHT? You just don’t see it outwardly. Quit picking on obese people! You are very prejudiced!!!

  5. Jerry,

    Gov. Christie chose to run for public office. He chose to eat and not exercise himself into his current state of health. He may (or may not) choose to run for national office. I’m not saying he isn’t disciplined in other aspects of his life. Obviously, he is. And I’m not saying skinny people don’t have their own discipline problems, or that losing significant weight isn’t a problem. Of course, that’s all true enough. But Gov. Christie needs to begin a serious focus on his weight issue, because at his age it is an existential threat.

    Realizing that, I just think with his star power and evident problem he would be the ideal candidate to lead the nation in addressing its own obesity problem both from a physical and fiscal vantage point. I am not picking on him, I am encouraging him and challenging him. Thanks for the reply.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s