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Posted at 08:54 PM ET, 10/03/2011

Chris Christie’s weight, the elephant in the room


We’ve been talking around it for too long. (Jae C. Hong - AP)
Avoirdupois? Adiposity?

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Especially if you’re Chris Christie’s weight.

Of all the potential 2012 candidates, Christie “looks the most like America.” One-size-fits-all policies? Well, one-size-fits-most. He is capable of throwing his weight around. “He looks like the sort of man who would wait a long time and decide not to run.”

If I have to hear one more elaborate circumlocution, I’ll eat Christie’s weight in ducklings. And I don’t make threats like that lightly. He’s awfully, er, Rubenesque.

It’s the elephant in the room, to pick another bad metaphor.

Too fat to be president?

The trouble is that our president is not fat enough. “Let me have men about me that are fat,” Caesar says in “Julius Caesar,” shortly before being stabbed to death by skinny people.

William Howard Taft was four times the man any other president has ever been, and infinite times the Supreme Court justice that any other president has ever been.

“But that was back in a time when people named Elihu were not laughed at and shunned, and cameras did not follow you everywhere.”

So?

America needs to update our profile picture.

The president of the United States is the face we present to the world. And right now, that face is trim and prone to playing pick-up basketball. Are you kidding? Meanwhile Michelle Obama says, “Let’s move!” and urges us to eat vegetables, as though that were not anathema.

That’s not America. As a country, we are overweight. 32 percent of men and 35 percent of women are obese, according to researchers, and by 2030 half the population will be actually obese if present trends continue.

I am typing this with one hand and holding a cheesecake in the other. Kate Moss said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels? Has Kate Moss ever eaten chicken waffles?

But why are people fat? Bill Clinton had what was described as a “democratic stomach.” He ate like us — and now look at him. A shadow of himself. A vegetarian. He’d never be elected.

The best stomachs, Voltaire said, are not those that refuse all food. Americans, taking his advice to heart, don’t refuse any.

They say the definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s why we quit dieting. If we get fat enough, maybe we can get on TV, where millions of Americans can sit on the couch eating chips and watch us sweat and cry.

The question is: How to represent this? CBS’s “Mike and Molly” offers the first really Rubenesque duo to grace our screens in eons. And now Molly has an Emmy. This is a demographic, suddenly, that needs to be represented and celebrated with its own stars. Up to a point. If it were really representative, we’d lose all the skinny people.

It’s not about the weight. It’s about admitting the weight.

Have you ever tried telling anyone she needed to lose weight? Have you ever had cooking implements flung at your head while your daughter cried? But I repeat myself.

Weight is the thing you talk about without talking about it. If you have ever read a parenting book, you know that to suggest your child might be, well, un-svelte will cost more in therapy than the inevitable triple-bypass down the road if you continue reinforcing his natural, ample beauty by handing him cheeseburgers.

No wonder “Let’s Move” has enraged us.

We can either move, or we can keep that photo from 1980 when we could still fit into those jeans, and just try not to go out too much. Why buy better-fitting pants? We can wear a lot of loose, draped clothing that makes us look like an enraged ottoman. We’re not fat. Did we say we were fat? It’s the lighting.

Meanwhile, supersize this. Supersize that. Supersize the presidency?

No. The president is the face we present to the world. And your weight goes straight to your face.

We are a nation of fatter and fatter people pretending to be a nation of skinny people. Look at our stars. Look at our magazines. Look at our representatives. Look at — well, everything we consider “presentable.” They have the metabolism of gnats. Members of Congress have to boast about their workout habits.

Steinbeck said that socialism will never take root in America because the poor view themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. That’s the same way we feel about obesity. We’re not fat. We’re temporarily unskinny. When the reunion comes around, we will have things under control.

And if anyone mentions it — it’s a “health problem.” It’s not that we look bad. We always look fabulous. It’s that our arteries just haven’t gotten with the program yet and are being stupid and mutinous.

That’s why Christie’s weight is such a looming subject. That’s why the presidency remains a swimsuit competition .

It’s not a reflection on him. It’s a reflection on us.

“Does this president make us look fat?”

We all know better than to answer a question like that.

By  |  08:54 PM ET, 10/03/2011

Tags:  Chris Christie, GOP 2012, oy

 
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