It was revealed last week that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got lap-band surgery in an effort to lose weight. He claims that it is simply a matter of health, and that he wants to ensure that he is around to see his kids grow up. But many political observers speculate that this might have something to do with his Presidential aspirations, that he needs to lose weight if he wants to win. Governor Christie has been considered a possible candidate for the GOP nomination since the last Presidential election cycle began and, despite some arch-conservatives disdain for his praise of President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he continues to be thought of as a potential front-runner if he should ever run. However, the idea that him being overweight could negatively affect his appeal to voters has also been an underlying concern. So far, the Governor has managed to laugh off the concerns of his weight, and has many times good-naturedly poked fun @ himself. So, yes, it is possible that his decision to undergo this rather drastic medical procedure is purely motivated by health concerns, and not @ all about politics. But I can’t help but wonder, could his weight really keep him from getting elected? Does he need to get skinny in order to win? 2016 will likely not be easy for the Republicans. Unlike the Democrats, where Hillary Clinton seems to pretty much be a lock for the nomination if she runs (although that’s what many, including me, thought in 2008, so who knows what could happen), the GOP field is pretty wide open. If Governor Christie enters the race, he’s going to have a lot of competition, so he’s going to need every advantage he can get.
I read this great opinion piece by Julian Zelizer on CNN.com about it, Chris Christie’s weight: Why it matters. It points out that President William Taft was about 300 lbs, but that was a long time ago, when we didn’t have the type of media coverage that we have now. There were no 24-hour news stations or internet. Some have stated that Franklin D Roosevelt wouldn’t get elected today, because he was in a wheelchair. It’s interesting to think about. My first thought is to say, hey, a majority of American voters have no elected a Black man named Barack HUSSEIN Obama to be President twice, so that should show that there’s no barrier to anyone getting elected today. But, on the other hand, some people have argued that Fat People are the last group in America that it is “acceptable” to discriminate against. And this cuts across all racial and sexual demographics. When was the last time you heard of a comedian getting in trouble for a fat joke, the way comedians have gotten in trouble for jokes about rape, or homosexuals or any other group? That doesn’t seem to happen because people tend to look down on and judge the overweight. It’s not thought of as real discrimination (even though it clearly IS), because the idea behind it is that if you’re fat, well, that’s your own fault. Unlike skin-color or gender or sexuality (barring those numbskulls who think homosexuality is “choice”), being fat is something you did to yourself, through bad choices of food and activity, so if you don’t want people to judge you, then just get in better shape. That’s a rotten attitude, but there’s no doubt that many Americans feel that way.
Of course, the irony here is that the majority of Americans are now overweight. And not just adults, but also the kids. This why I wrote before that while I disagree with NY Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban 16 oz. sodas, I do understand where he’s coming from. We have an obesity problem in this country that shouldn’t be ignored. Heck, no one who looks @ me right now would think of me as “fat” but, trust me, there’s a good 20-22 lbs. that I need to lose. There’s a reason why I’m not one of those guys who poses with his shirt off in front of the mirror and then uses that image as his Facebook profile picture. I’d need several months of weight-training before I’d feel comfortable doing that. So you’d think, if anything, Governor Christie’s weight should make him even more appealing to the electorate right now, because they should be able to identify with him. If George W. Bush could get elected twice (well, once) in part because he was the candidate that voters “wanted to have a beer with,” then maybe Governor Christie could promote himself as the candidate that you “want to eat pizza and donuts with”? 🙂
Or maybe not.
Well, whatever his reasons, I wish him luck. Even with the surgery, that’s no guarantee, he will still need a lot of will power and discipline to get fit, so it won’t be easy. But if comedienne Monique could lose over 80 lbs, then I think he can do it to. So good luck, Governor!