Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Apparently Unbearable Un-Lightness of Chris Christie

Newsflash: NJ Gov. Chris Christie is still fat -- and it is driving some people right over the edge of decency and sense.

Consider this a postscript or an update to the post we did Friday on the heaping helping of fat hatred the Washington Post dished up in its coverage of speculation about whether Christie would enter the 2012 presidential race. Somehow, in our careful research for that post, we managed to overlook the truly appalling display of fat eliminationism posted on Bloomberg earlier in the week by Michael Kinsley (H/T). I kinda hate linking to the Kinsley piece, but it seems important to let you see for yourselves just how comfortable he is asserting that a public servant's size is in and of itself disqualifying for higher office. Why? Well, Kinsley says, because being overweight shows a lack of discipline, and "a presidential candidate should be judged on behavior and character, not just on policies." Also, presidents  set an example for the people they lead and serve as a symbol for the U.S. around the world. Fat people make bad symbols -- unlike, you know, torturers and obstructors of justice.

Here's the thing, kids: We're not wild about the term "fat eliminationism," which feels designed to shut down any kind of conversation about weight's relationship to overall health. We think those conversations need to occur. In this instance, however, the term is appropriate, because Kinsley is so unbelievably harsh and unabashed in his judgments. He has no qualms about insisting that fatness is disqualifying at the presidential level, blithely asserting that even fat people hate fat people ("Most overweight people hope to be thin eventually.") and that Christie could lose weight if he put his mind to it ("Controlling what you eat and how much is not easy, and it’s harder for some people than for others. But it’s not as difficult as curing a chemical addiction.").

The Recently Overweight Person of Roxie's World has a message for Michael Kinsley: Shut the frack up. What in dog's name made you think this was a column worth posting? It is worse than worthless as political analysis, dripping as it is with a mean-spiritedness, condescension, and -- there is no other word for it -- hatred toward those whose size you deem to be excessive. It offers nothing of value to our understanding of either politics or health. You are not a doctor, and you don't seem to have direct knowledge of Chris Christie's metabolism or genetic makeup. The last thing fat people need is one more finger-wagging thin person telling them that if they are not willing to lose weight they should just get their fat bodies out of sight. Mr. Kinsley, you are so not helping people of any size with this kind of clap-trap. So, well, you know . . .

(Image via.)


  1. dog-eared book8:59 AM EDT

    Didja see this, Rox (& typist)?

    As usual, stay out of the comments -- they get nasty in just the way you're warning against. Yeesh! As if Christie doesn't give us enough to focus on politically. But I've had it with the so called liberal media. Listening to Cokie Roberts instinctive take that the Occupy Wall St. protests were "bad news for Obama" -- shifting the immediate target of the protests from Wall St. to Pennsylvania Av. -- jumping to the tendentious takeaway before engaging the event itself -- well, it's enough to make me turn off the radio as well as the tv. You'll keep me posted, wontcha Rox?

  2. I'm no fan of Christie's politics--or necessarily of all of Clinton's. But I will say I would rather have a political leader whose appetites sometimes get the best of them, who live life largely enough to stray from the straight and narrow, to have an adventure, to dare to speak or act or engage in bold and sometimes uncensored ways, who are alive to risk pleasure, pain and mistakes--that plus the wisdom and honesty to admit mistakes and to learn from them. I'm not sure how Christie will do with the latter--but it is the thorns in our sides that we pray to have removed to no avail that make us human and that--if we're not in denial about them, not hiding them, not lying about them--can be a source of identification with the struggles and sufferings of others and a reminder that we are all finite, limited struggling beings worthy of compassion and plain, simple recognition from others.

  3. We'll do our best, Dog-Eared Book, but the political spectacle has become so dispiriting of late that even we have a hard time staying tuned in. Moose hasn't been able to listen to Cokie Roberts since the Clinton administration. Can't. Stand. Her.

    Thanks for mentioning Frank Bruni's wonderful piece calling out Kinsley, Robinson, and all the other fat-haters who have weighed in, as it were, on Christie. It's spot on and much less rantier than our post.

  4. Yay! Thanks, Kelly, for this lovely and apt comment. Here's to appetite and lapses in discipline! Here's to passion, life, and humanity! Here's to not being Cheney or Bush!

  5. Kinsley's article was an embarassment. I guess someone else should write a column announcing that people with Parkinson's Disease have no business writing articles about politics. That would make about as much sense as his comments about Christie.

    Maybe it's not fair, but I truly wonder at the heartlessness and cluelessness of someone who's been diagnosed with a serious illness who so blithely uses someone else's body against him. How can anyone with that diagnosis be comfortable making pronouncements about anyone else's body, or be confident that even an apparently trim and fit person will necessarily be up to the rigors of a presidential campaign and a stint in the WH?

  6. Indeed, Historiann. We wrestled with whether or not to mention this particular aspect of Kinsley's appalling insensitivity and ultimately decided not to. You're right that it is stunning that someone with a serious illness would use someone else's body against him, but perhaps Kinsley thinks his disease puts him beyond judgment, while (what he sees as) Christie's poor choices and lack of discipline make him fair game for the lifestyle police.

    Ugh. It's revolting. We pulled our punches because we didn't want to seem to beat up on a sick guy. Glad you acknowledged it, though.

  7. One of my FB friends posted this photo:

    Along with this comment:
    Mermaid or whale?

    Some time ago at the entrance to a gym you could see a poster with a photo of a spectacular physical girl wrote: "this summer, you want to be a mermaid or whale?"

    It is said that a woman, you do not know their physical appearance, answered the question as follows:

    Dear Sirs, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans) have an active sex life and raise their young with great affection.
    Have fun with the dolphins like crazy and eat shrimp to embarrassment. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.

    They sing beautifully and sometimes even burn CDs. They are amazing animals and very dear, which is defended and admired around the world.

    Mermaids do not exist.

    But i...

    Seems to fit the discussion here. I've pointed her Roxie's way.


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