Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) is a big guy. So big that his weight is not only fodder for cutting and cruel jokes but also a source of deep concern for those who fear his health is risk. One such person is Dr. Connie Mariano, a fellow Republican who was also President Clinton’s doctor in the White House. During a CNN interview, she said she would love to see Christie run for president in 2016, but added, “I’m worried about this man dying in office.”
The response was classic Christie: “[S]he should shut up.”
We’re all talking about the governor’s weight again because of his hilarious sit-down with David Letterman the other night. The late-night comedian has made the rising star of the GOP the butt of jokes for years. And Christie’s visit with Letterman displayed why the Garden State governor is so popular. But claiming that he is “the healthiest fat guy you’ll ever meet” will not quell the questions about his weight.
At a press conference the day after his Letterman appearance, Christie talked about his battle of the bulge.
For folks who have struggles with their weight, if you talk to anyone in this room who has a struggle with their weight what they will tell you is that every week, every month, every year, there’s a plan. There’s a plan. And so the idea that somehow I don’t care about this, of course I care about it. And I’m making the best effort I can. And sometimes I’m successful and other times I’m not. And sometimes, periods of great success are followed by periods of great failure….[T]hat’s just the way it’s worked for me for probably the last 30 years of my life.
So, I know people have concerns, but as I said to David last night on the show, so far, up to 50 years old, I’ve been remarkably healthy. And, you know, my doctor continues to warn me my luck is going to run out relatively soon. So, believe me, it’s something I’m very conscious of. But in terms of people in the state being concerned about whether or not it prevents me from being able to do my job effectively, I think they’ve seen the results of that.
What concerned me about this moment of openness and self-reflection was his doctor’s admonition. “[M]y doctor continues to warn me my luck is going to run out relatively soon,” Christie said. Luck running out is exactly what drives people like Dr. Mariano and others to continuously raise questions about the governor’s weight. They do so not out of malice but out of genuine concern for a politician whose physical stature might stand in the way of his political stature.
Christie talking about his struggles with weight makes an all too-human politician even more so. That’s why he shouldn’t bristle when people express concern for his health. Instead, Christie ought to work hard to ensure that his “plan” for doing something about it succeeds in some way. With an astounding 74 percent approval rating, he’d have plenty of support.
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