John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Fat People Have No Reason

Posted on October 3, 2011
In 1977, Randy Newman had a hit with his song, “Short People”, with the immortal line, “short people, short people, short people have no reason to live.”

Newman later said that the song was about prejudice, but if you were a short person, that distinction was probably lost on you.

Substitute fat people for short people, and you have the campaign song against Chris Christie.  That’s because many liberal commentators have already said that the New Jersey governor is too fat to run for President.   How’s that for insightful and penetrating analysis.

Christie is a big guy with a big personality.  And should he run and then become President, he would be the biggest guy to be President since William Howard Taft.

Taft was the fattest President in United States history, but his girth didn’t necessarily hold him back.  In fact, Taft was simply the fattest in a string of fat Presidents, including Grover Cleveland, William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt.  (Yes, despite his reputation as a great adventurer and outdoorsman, T.R. weighed in around 230 pounds.

Taft and Roosevelt were also the last two Presidents to have mustaches.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Let’s face it.  Neither facial hair nor excessive poundage play that well on television.  And the last President to have a bit of a weight problem, Bill Clinton, did a pretty good job of distributing it around his ample frame.

Television might be part of the reason that fat candidates haven’t done well, but I have another thought.  Women got the right to vote in 1920.  There hasn’t been a really fat President since then.   Clinton didn’t to seem to have much of a problem with the ladies, so it wasn’t much of a political issue for him (although Saturday Night Live would have fun with his predilection to chow down on Big Macs at McDonald’s from time to time).

Haley Barbour, the smart and always quotable Mississippi governor, said last year that if you saw him start to lose weight, you knew he was either running for President or he had cancer.  Barbour understands the ladies don’t flock to the fat guys running for the top job, and if he wanted to be a contender, he would have to drop the lbs.

Chris Christie has the same issues, although he makes Barbour look like the Thin Man.

I have great appreciation for what Christie is going through.  As somebody who was last skinny at age 14, I understand how tempting a big meal can be, especially when I am stressed out (or, let’s face it, when I am not stressed out).   And if your calendar makes it impossible to work out, things can get out of whack in a hurry.

Christie’s struggles are America’s struggles.  We are now officially a very big country with very big people.   I don’t know what the latest studies show, but my guess is that at least half of America should be classified as fat, with a healthy percentage of them being classified as really fat.

Is now the time for fat America to be led by a proud member of their clan?

Liberal columnists like Eugene Robinson and Mike Kinsley – members of the skinny caucus – have already basically said that Christie is too fat to be President.

But that shouldn’t be surprising.  Liberal America hates fat America.  They see is a further example of the evils of American capitalism, overindulgence and flat out greed.

Obesity, though, afflicts the middle and lower middle classes far harder than it afflicts the wealthy.  Indeed, one of the historically interesting things about the fattening of America is that, unlike in times past, when kings (think King Henry VIII) and burghers were the fat ones, now it is the lower classes that face the biggest problems of being too big.

I don’t know if Chris Christie is going to run for President or not, but I do know that if he chooses to run, his size will be a campaign issue, for good or for ill.   He ought to learn a thing or two from Mike Huckabee and start a weight loss program.  To be the biggest winner politically, it wouldn’t hurt to be the biggest loser in the weight department.