EXERCISE SHMEXERCISE

We in the running world contain variants of every political persuasion, making the sport the true Big Tent, an open flap for everyone. One reason the sport is so inclusive is because it is so honest and pure (at least in heart, if not always in practice).  Anybody can do it, yes, but you can’t talk your way into a good performance, it’s all there in the training log, hard work and perseverance, the most basic lesson of the sport, you get out what you put in. And based on that metric alone I think we can see a new way to evaluate the Big Bopper in Washington D.C.

Those of a certain vintage will remember the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, a prophetic program that encouraged kids to get out and exercise at a time when there was a near universal introduction of television sets into American homes.  Though begun by President Eisenhower in 1956, the council was re-invigorated by President Kennedy in 1963.  The Presidential Champions Award was given to students who achieved the top fifteenth percentile across a series of events: 50-yard dash, 600-yard dash, Standing broad jump, Pull-ups (boys), Flexed-arm hang (girls), Sit-ups in 60-seconds, and the shuttle run.

Now if you ever wondered how to tell if times really do change…

Question: Does the current president personally think he tried to squelch the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election when he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to “let it go” in regards to his pal, ex-national security advisor General Michael Flynn?  Does he personally think he revealed highly classified material to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office while bragging about what “great intel” he gets?  Does he really think “no politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly” than him, as he told the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2017 at today’s commencement in New London, Connecticut? 

Belief is a powerful thing. I’ve always thought life is but a series of self-fulfilling prophecies, as believing is the predicate for the possible. But believing alone doesn’t make it real. Belief must be bolstered by hard work and drive and actual accomplishment. 

Whatever his answers may be to the above questions, however, all the president’s beliefs must now be put in the context of the following revelation, which sneaked by us in recent days (due to all the other can-you-believe-this-shit-is-happening? stuff that knocked it off the radar). 

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This one is right out of Ripley’s.  In a recent report by The New Yorker President Trump was said to consider exercise “misguided”, feeling that a person is like a battery, “born with a finite amount of energy.”  (No wonder he doesn’t stay up late reading detailed briefing books. He’s saving energy for the real work of making crap up as he goes along.)

This conception of exercise as debilitating rather than empowering could also be found in the Washington Post’s biography of Mr. Trump.  There he stated that he gave up sports after college because of this same “people=batteries” belief, fearing that working out would deplete his energy stores.  Anyone else hear an eerie echo to General Jack D. Ripper from Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove?

So never mind what your own experience as a runner, or that  that The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults 65 years of age or older should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights two or more days a week.   And please pay no further attention to The American Academy of Family Physicians, which agrees with the CDC’s recommendations.

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This is not Mr. Trump’s first foray into claptrappery when it comes to health and exercise. You may remember his visit to the Dr. Oz show during the presidential campaign.  There, according to Mr. Trump’s personal physician Dr. Harold N. Bornstein of Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, then-candidate Trump was in “excellent health,” and if elected would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” 

Well now. 

Runners, of course, are notorious fibbers, too, so we can’t be too snooty here.  After all, how often does a 5.8 mile training run become 7 in the log, or a 9.5 miler go up to 10?  It’s almost universal. But even fibbing runners must have appreciated The Donald’s appearance with Dr. Oz.

First, the doc tee-balled an opening question for him, “what do you do to keep in shape on the campaign trail?”   Really?   Come on Doc, at least throw overhand.  But even if you weren’t aware of his Twilight Zone stance on exercise, it’s quite obvious Big D doesn’t do squat (much less thrust) to stay in shape, as any rear shot photo of his golf swing might suggest.  But why indulge in a small self-deprecation when you can say instead that waving-his-arms during speeches is “I guess, a form of exercise”. And said, by the way, with not an ounce of irony.

Just to get Trumpo’s postulate straight, the proposition before the house is: “Gesticulating during speeches = a form of exercise”.  And he says he’s not liberal. So how about REM sleep, D.T.?  That count, too?  Where do Jimmy legs fit into your exercise regime, might I ask?  What’s drumming your fingers then, speed work?

Toya tells me not to write anything, because it’s too political.  But how can you just sit there and let that kind of church fart slide by?  You can’t. Light a match and that stink-bomb will blow to high heaven.  But more than that, it was another gaseous display of the Trumpster’s default BS reflex.

First of all, Trumpy was under no pressure in that setting whatsoever, and should have been right at home with the good Dr. Oz, comfortable setting, willing interlocutor. Plus, he brought in a good homework assignment. 

He had wonderful blood work numbers for a guy of 70 years. And good genes, too, as both sides of his family have a history of long life. So he might actually be able to afford getting away with a little less rigor in terms of lifestyle, which he does with his fast food diet. 

At the same time he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, he loves and is loved (does self-love count?)  He’s in love, too, with what he does for a living, at least he was before January 20, 2017.  His vigor/essence is fully evident. In other words, there are some pluses to offset that paunchy corpulence.

OK, so he doesn’t exercise. That’s not a high crime or misdemeanor.  And he’s overweight, too, but he did cop to that. But when he started talking about his golfing pal Tom Brady, and thinks,  “when I’m with him I feel the same age as him,” we say, whoa there, big fella. Not sure Melania and Giselle are going to have a problem differentiating you two boys in the huddle. 

Then he floats out the plume that  gesticulating may be a form of exercise, and we are veering dangerously into Reagan’s “ketchup is a vegetable” territory, which should make us all wonder, what other such crap do you believe, sir?

But of course he doesn’t believe any of it, it is all just another throwaway line.  Nothing here to see, there will be another one coming along any minute. I’m telling you, he’s exhausting to keep up with, which,  come to think of it, sounds like another form of exercise for me.  So, thanks for that, Mr. President.  Perhaps it’s time for a new President’s Council?

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