Sizing up Gov. Christie’s chances

Al Kamen
Columnist September 29, 2011

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is weighing his options regarding a presidential campaign, and the political pundits are taking his measure, it seems a fitting time to ponder the role of the large man in politics.

If Christie were to jump into the race for the GOP nomination, he would stand out — not just for his policy positions but also for his girth. He has never revealed his weight, though he has described himself as “fat.” If elected, he would certainly be the largest president since William Howard Taft, elected a century ago, who was said to have scaled in at upwards of 330 pounds.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

One has to reach back to the likes of Grover Cleveland (first elected in 1884) and William McKinley (1896) for other similarly oversize commanders-in-chief, our colleague Emily Heil reports.

And not only are there no overweight presidents in the modern era, there aren’t even any pudgy candidates in recent memory, says Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian and American University professor. He credits the dawning of the TV era and the modern emphasis on physical fitness for the slimming down of politicians. “It reflects what’s happening in our culture,” he says. “Prior to the television age, people hardly ever saw the president.”

Rebecca Puhl, a Yale psychologist and an expert on weight stigma, says overweight candidates face deep bias and discrimination that are getting worse — even as the American obesity rate ticks up. “There are so many negative weight-based stereotypes — people think overweight and obese people are lazy, out of control, or lacking in discipline and willpower,” she says.

Christie, if he runs and fails, would be . . . the biggest loser.

A budget-office deficit

In these days of budget woes, you’d think there would be some urgency to fill the No. 2 job at the Office of Management and Budget. But Senate Republicans have been holding up the nomination of White House aide Heather Higginbottom , who was apparently handpicked by OMB Director Jack Lew to be his deputy and nominated back in January.

A number of GOP senators, including Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, have strong questions about her qualifications. And Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who’s not a committee member, is said to have a hold on the nomination based on a demand for administration documents or information on an unrelated matter.

“I hope and understand that Senator Kyl is working with the administration on something that will clear this nomination,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor this week, adding he was not going to move to break the hold immediately “but all my Republican colleagues should be prepared” for a vote to break the hold next week. “I hope Senator Kyl will allow this nomination to go forward after his request is satisfied,” he added.

Kyl’s office declined to comment.

Brazil? Nuts!

We’re No. 1! Except, of course, when we’re No. 2. For example, at the United Nations General Assembly world leader session each fall, Brazil is always the first country to speak, followed by the United States.

Most people, including a former U.S. ambassador to the world body, don’t know why that is. “It’s always been that way,” we were told. And, indeed it has.

The reason, says international relations expert Edward C. Luck, is older than the United Nations itself. Seems that, in meetings with Allied leaders during World War II to set up the U.N., FDR wanted Brazil to be a permanent member of the security council, Luck explained. Roosevelt wanted to reward Brazil for its help in the war, thought it would be good to have another Western Hemisphere country and a developing nation on the council.

Apparently there were some objections and they eventually agreed to designate Brazil as leadoff speaker and the United States, as the host country, would be next. The remaining speakers are determined by the U.N. Secretariat using a complex set of factors and, of course, politicking.

Well, they’re both square

Colorado’s nine electoral votes could be key to the 2012 presidential race. So it might be a good idea if the Obama White House could locate the state on a map.

Questions arose when reporters traveling with President Obama on his Western swing this week were given their press badges. Obama was speaking in cities in Washington, California and Colorado, the badge noted, conveniently putting them in light colors.

But what’s wrong with this picture? Seems the place they think is Colorado is actually Wyoming. You’d think they’d know where Denver was. Didn’t Obama appear there about three years ago with all those goofy-looking Roman columns?

Moving on . . .

Seems it was only yesterday — actually it was a few months ago — that we wrote that longtime State Department employee Diane Zeleny was going to get a new job as director of communications and external relations at the Broadcast­ing Board of Gover­nors, which over­sees all govern­ment broadcast op­erations for Voice of America, Ra­dio Free Eu­rope, Ra­dio and TV Mar­ti.

“I just got here, that’s true,” she said in an e-mail this week announcing her departure Oct. 7 to be vice president for strategy and communications for the Legatum Institute, a London-based free-market-oriented think tank. She said she was staying in Washington “with frequent trips to London and Dubai where Legatum has offices.”

In other moves of note, Shimmy Stein, senior policy adviser to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for the past decade, is leaving to join the lobbying group Blank Rome Governmental Relations as a principal. No replacement has been named, Cantor’s office said.

Twitter: @AlKamenWP

SECTION: {section=politics, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=15, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=politics, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=15, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments