April 19, 2010

Can a fat guy be Presidential timber?

Back in the good old days of Grover Cleveland and William Howard Taft, fatness was seen as reassuring evidence in a leader of success, maturity, calmness, and a high blood sugar level. But in recent generations, Presidents have tended to be lean and hungry types, with the exception of Bill Clinton, who ran from 214 to 236 on a 6'2.5" frame, but that didn't count because he's a Democrat.

I bring this up because close watchers of politics (i.e., not me, but people who know what they are talking about) are starting to speak with surprised admiration of the recently elected Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, the dark horse local who upset that Goldman Sachs honcho last fall.

It's not like the GOP has so many outstanding leaders that it couldn't use any fresh blood. But, the New Jersey governor is a dead ringer for Paul Blart, Mall Cop, just without the cool Segway to ride around on. So, can a fat guy be considered Presidential timber?

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've wondered if there exists a portion of overweight/obese voters who voted , in part, for Christie to see someone who looks like themselves as a icon of success.

Anthony said...

Haley Barbour is being mentioned as a possible serious Republican Presidential candidate.

Christopher Paul said...

Christie has a 23-person Cabinet? Secretary of Agriculture??

No wonder Jersey's up a creek.

Anonymous said...

Christie is of half English and half Italian descent. Translation: a maximally assimilated American.

James said...

Q: Can a fat man be elected POTUS?

A: No way

Politics in the US is all about making a good impression in a 30 second or less TV spot.

The American public isn't up for anything more, and the political class likes it that way. The Lincon-Douglass debates of 1858 took hours.

The current American public simply couldn't stay interested; indeed, it is unlikely that they could approach a lengthy debate with enough in depth background knowledge of issues to follow what was going on. Nor, I think, could most current politicians.

So: TV presence in highly scripted forms is of maximum importance. As an aside, I wonder just how many women voters our current President won once photos of him strutting on the beach sans shirt were released?

Sam said...

214-236 lbs. isn't fat.

Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat

sf said...

Maybe CNN would endorse him. Candy Crowley did a story once on "weightism."

ziel said...

Secretary of Agriculture??

Hey, it's the Garden State!

Anonymous said...

Christie is too swarthy.

Harry Baldwin said...

I think it's a problem when the first word that pops into people's minds when they see you is "fat." That would be true of Christie but I don't think it was true of Clinton; he was hefty but not morbidly obese.

On the other hand, Obama's unusual lankiness subliminally contributes to the impression that he's not a native American. It also makes him look adolescent.

Ice Cold Magma said...

Sorry, babe, but here's your 2012 GOP timber (all hewn from 100% neo-conservative balsa wood):

1. Mitt "Maximum Mormon" Romney
2. Sarah "Freakin'" Palin
3. Jeb "The Traitor" Busheron
4. Bobby "World Boy" Jindal
5. Mike "Come to Jesus" Huckabee

And here are some darkhorses (no pun intended, and just for fun, because GOP doesn't do surprises as nominee for POTUS):

X. George "George" Foreman
Y. Lynn Swann (or that black former Oklahoma QB, what does it matter?)
Z. That crazy preacher from Harlem on YouTube

And here is the Hail Mary, miracle candidate (no, it's not Doug Flutie):

(drum roll)

And the #1, double secret, GOP-convention-floor, out-of-nowhere, upset-of-the-century nominee is...The "Right Honorable" David Cameron, former "Conservative" Party leader of Great Britain.

Anonymous said...

Wide hips, tiny legs - not a very masculine body shape.

DCThrowback said...

It could be an asset if it was used surreptitiously to run against the sure to be "knives out" liberal elite who would surely be making mention of it (both opaquely and in the open) at every opportunity.

Here's the thing with Christie: what he's doing is revolutionary precisely because it's so simple - standing up to people who won't vote for you anyways. Unions and municipal workers will rarely support the (R). So, why curry favor? Lay it out - this is what I am going to do - and I am going to do it. Here's why. Kudos to him for seeing problem and attempting to fix it. If that's all it takes these days to have some presidential timbre, it's time for me to run for dogcatcher.

Tanstaafl said...

Elena Kagan would be a four-fer: fat, lesbian, jewish, woman.

It's probably just a coincidence but Levin, Goldman, Silverstein, Roth, Cohen, another Levin, another Cohen, et al. think she'd make a wonderful president.

Jeff said...

In the previous post about presidential timber, the consensus seemed to be that "timber" just means "material."

I would belatedly like to add my opinion on this. I think the origin of that term has something to do with the use of tall timber for sailing ships' masts.

Phrases such as "that's some tall timber," or "we need tall timber," might have helped to form the analogy of presidential timber.

Anonymous said...

Can't they put forward Epic Beard Guy?

Steve Sailer said...

"Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat."

Well, for that measure, I'm just about the same height and weight as the early 1990s Michael Jordan.

But, it's not really the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Barbour's inability to win a contest nationally would have nothing to do with his girth (which somehow seems different than Christie's). It has to do with his very thick, DEEP Southern accent.

Barbour is an accomplished administrator/executive and he has conservative cred, but no way does the American populace vote for a guy with that accent, sad to say. They'd caricature him to death.

Anonymous said...

"Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat"

Ahhh, big difference: Brett's body mass is muscle; Clinton's was fat.

JD said...

The whole image thing can get kind of ridiculous. For example...

Anonymous said...

He might get the fat women vote. The average American woman weighs 164 lbs.

sort-of related:
I recall hearing how more positively women felt about John Edwards after learning he has a fat wife. They presumed a pretty boy with great hair had a young, thin, blonde with big t;ts.

Anonymous said...

"As an aside, I wonder just how many women voters our current President won once photos of him strutting on the beach sans shirt were released?"

Woman here. When that photo was captioned, you have thought that Obama was a stud since there was a mention of "nice pecs."

I thought, "You gotta be kidding!" Those were, it looked to me, pretty hangy, saggy things, especially for a thin guy. I looked several times, wondering if I was looking at the same pic the writers were. Maybe the angle was bad?

divinryan said...

Then there's the svelte, libertarian, two-term NM Gov. Gary Johnson. Come on GOP don't let me down, again.

Mark said...

Can a fat man be elected POTUS?

If he keeps governing the way Christie seems to be: Yes.

Christie should focus on governing for another year, then on losing (some of) the weight. If he only looks a little fat it might actually help him, by endearing him to the people.

Christie's message could also be: "Isn't it time to focus on achievement rather than appearance?" He's making the tough calls that Americans, Tea Party types especially, know need to be made.

214-236 lbs. isn't fat. Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat

Because most of that poundage is muscle. I'm about the same height as Favre and Clinton, and I can assure you, I feel fat at 206 and would be visibly fat at 220 and would be seriously obese at 236.
Muscle is more dense than fat.

The "Right Honorable" David Cameron, former "Conservative" Party leader of Great Britain.

That politically-correct pussy Cameron is about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Anonymous said...

Well, for that measure, I'm just about the same height and weight as the early 1990s Michael Jordan.

But, it's not really the same thing.


Are you suggesting that you don't match up to Jordan on the hardwood?

rob said...

214-236 lbs. isn't fat.

Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat


Has the type II diabetes from being a fatass blinded you?

Seriously, some people aren't cutout for numbers. Maybe I'm being too hard on fatty. BMI must have been created because most people can't just look at someone and see if he's fat. I have a superpower!

As for prez, depends if the fatties are self-loathing. I think they are. Already most adults are fat, but popular actors and actresses remain pleasantly human-sized.

If Christie has the self-control to lose weight, he could win on that. Huckabee ran on losing weight, he did pretty well for a 'tard.

Jack said...

Christie is starting out as a courageous, fiscally conservative governor. He has a long time to be governor, then he has to win re-eleciton in 2013, before he can consider running for national office. His record will do the talking.

His weight will effect things but also might help him as a "man of the people".

FOr his own health though, it might be wise to lose a bit of weight.

TGGP said...

Presidents also had facial hair back then. When was the last time we had a serious POTUS candidate with hair on his face or the lack therof on top of his head?

I don't think fat people vote for fat politicians. Do ugly people vote for ugly ones?

BamaGirl said...

"He might get the fat women vote. The average American woman weighs 164 lbs."

Yeah, even though those women are fat they won't sympathize with a fat male. All their attention is focused on a futile attempt to change the standards of what is considered attractive for women. Hence why "curvy" has basically become a euphemism for "fat" now.

eh said...

...but that didn't count because he's a Democrat.

Just like Obama's golfing will not be held against him.

agnostic said...

The pre-Cleveland Presidents weren't very fat, though. It must have been all the sugar that became available with industrialization, yet before it was cheap enough for commoners to get fat on it too.

Simon said...

My wife confirms that it's timBRE, not timBER.

robert61 said...

Corzine's fat attack ad effectively linked Christie's weight (and implicit gluttony) to allegations that he is morally compromised. Christie parried it skilfully on CNN, but it's tough to watch him stumble out of that limo like a cartoon elephant without feeling an inner sneer well up.

keypusher said...

Presidents also had facial hair back then. When was the last time we had a serious POTUS candidate with hair on his face or the lack therof on top of his head?

Dewey had a mustache -- hence the famous crack that he looked like the guy on the wedding cake.

Charles Evans Hughes had a full beard.

Can't think of any serious bald candidates after Eisenhower and Stevenson in the 1950s.

mark said...

In an ordinary POTUS electoral cycle focused excessively on superficial soundbites and image then being over-weight clearly puts one at a disadvantage compared to the trim and muscular.

However, in extra-ordinary times it is possible that the electorate may focus more on substance than superficiality.

Specifically I'm thinking of the real possibility that the US economy will be in the deep depths of a protracted economic depression in 2012.

People will want hope and change more than ever but they will demand more than superficial slogans and a pretty face. A large/fat dominant guy with the right message could do well in this environment.

Anonymous said...

1. Can a fat man win? A tall and basically handsome man who qualified as somewhat stocky could win. This is basically what Clinton was. The fat was well distributed across his body, and he was quite attractive to many women. It also does help to be a Democrat because you can count on the MSM to excoriate anyone who tries to mock your fat. That said, a morbidly obese man cannot win. Christie is so fat that he looks like he's either about to explode or keel over dead. You look at him and think, "If you're not smart enough to avoid eating yourself to death, how can you possibly be smart enough to run a government." And there is no good answer to that question. A guy who is that fat is, by definition, incredibly stupid or incredibly dysfunctional. The only reason he won in Jersey is that his predecessor and opponent was both the worst governor and the worst politician in the history of the state -- which is saying something considering that he came after Jim McGreevey.

2. Even if an obese Republican could win the presidency (or even if Christie could lose weight), Christie could not win the presidency. A. He will always be wide open to attacks on his intelligence because he went to the University of Delaware, and didn't do all that well there. Running him for the presidency would just confirm the "Republicans are the dumb party" line of attack. B. He won't have much of a record to run on from Jersey. The governor of the Garden State has more power than most governors, but he still has to work with a legislature, and barring some sort of miracle, both houses of that legislature will be controlled by Democrats throughout Christie's term.

Dutch Boy said...

Took a quick look at his Wiki bio - nothing there that sets my heart to pit-a-patting. He sounds like a standard Republican pol. Ho hum and peeyew!

Anonymous said...

Dunno about presidents, but when are you going to tell us about the wise Latina lesbian transsexual rastafarian that The One wants to appoint to the Supreme Court.

Kylie said...

James said: "As an aside, I wonder just how many women voters our current President won once photos of him strutting on the beach sans shirt were released?"

Ugh, include me out. Obama sans shirt was just another turn-off for me (His hectoring, lecturing, black preacher singsong was the first clue that I was not destined to be his No.1 fan.) He looked like he had to take time out from his busy schedule to work out. He also looked like he was wondering why the cuties weren't appearing in droves to drape his sculpted form in leis.

By contrast, Putin sans shirt looked like he was living the rugged life that had resulted in that rugged torso. I admit it, I swooned.

And when Putin broke a branch to build a campfire, I couldn't help thinking how in that setting, Obama would be lounging around, supervising Thunder Thighs while she did all the actual work.

stari_momak said...

Here's a classic picture of Taft, in his term as governor of the Philippines.

stari_momak said...

A bit off topic, but ever notice inverse correlation between a high school's probability of having an Anglo-Saxon name (Garfield, Roosevelt, Taft, Cleveland) and the probability of any given student being an Anglo-Saxon?

It works the other way too, in Cali. Orange County's Rancho Santa Margarita or Juniperro Serra are full of Anglos.

Anonymous said...

I think that the radio/television/motion picture era discriminates against people with bad voices as much as against people with ugly faces [or copious waistlines].

If you are a man [or a woman] with a high-pitched, squeaky, nasal voice, then you can just kiss goodbye any idea of ever having a career in politics.

In the modern era, you need the kind of deep, gravelly, basso sonorousness to your voice which you get from smoking Marlboros.

I also imagine that it helps to swallow some downers [like the Menendez brothers did for their trial testimony] before you go onstage for a debate with a crotchety old ex-POW who suffers from all sorts of PTSS [both mental and physical].

Anonymous said...

"214-236 lbs. isn't fat.

Brett Favre is 6'2" and is playing weight is around 240. He doesn't look fat"

Brett Favre is a professional sportsman... Most people who weigh 240lbs at 6'2'' are fatties.

"And the #1, double secret, GOP-convention-floor, out-of-nowhere, upset-of-the-century nominee is...The "Right Honorable" David Cameron, former "Conservative" Party leader of Great Britain."

Only his face is fat...

Anonymous said...

Our friend James Watson who had gotten into trouble over his ideas about race also has ideas about body weight. Here.

Svigor said...

I didn't know Bill Clinton is over 6'2". I had him pegged at 5'10"-ish.

Anonymous said...

I hope he stays fat and doesn't become obsessed with weight loss like Huck & Clinton or fitness like Bush and Obama. Save all that psychic energy for problem-solving and kicking union ass.

Anonymous said...

I thought we were supposed to be a society where people were judged by the contents of their character and not the fatness of their waistlines? Oh well.

By the way the last presidential election where there was facial hair was in 1948. The Republican candidate against Truman had a mustache.

Sam said...

"Has the type II diabetes from being a fatass blinded you?"

You don't get Type 2 diabetes from fat itself. It's how your body processes artificial fat and sugar.
You can eat that junk and - depending on your body metabolism- be fat or rail skinny and develop diabetes.

Most of the fat discrimination seems to come from ugly, skinny
people. Who else can ugly people look down upon?

Jack said...

BamaGirl, of course all that did was give a bad connotation tto "curvy".

Anonymous said...

When was the last time we had a serious POTUS candidate with hair on his face or the lack therof on top of his head?

Last mustachioed serious POTUS candidate: Thomas Dewey (GOP, 1944 & 1948)

Last mustachioed POTUS: Taft (GOP 1909-1913)

Last bearded serious POTUS candidate: Charles Evans Hughes (GOP 1916)

Last bearded POTUS: B. Harrison (GOP 1889-1893)

Last seriously bald (not counting Ford/Ike fuzz) serious POTUS candidate: Stevenson (Dem 1952 & 1956)

Last seriously bald POTUS: Van Buren (Dem 1867-1841)

DCThrowback said...

Non-wealth creating, overpaid government workers respond artfully to Christie's common sense proposals:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jGTeutMM3f-Q6UsgYdc8NteWkxpAD9F6GDB00

Of course you'd expect to see Christie's physical appearance brought up - thus proving if you can't win the philosophical argument, might as well go for the insults. Then again, since most of these folks have no idea what is happening in the world, it does make a certain amount of sense.

The double standard of expected behavior between liberal and conservative special interest groups is off-the-charts ridiculous.

ricpic said...

Glenn Beck would win in a walk if he ran for president -- which he won't. But he's what millions upon millions are starving for -- an decent man who loves America and wants to preserve what's left of her.

David said...

>A guy who is that fat is, by definition, incredibly stupid or incredibly dysfunctional.<

Where are you getting your definitions?

Screwed-up metabolisms and glandular problems also cause fatness.

Leave it to a hard-charging American rightist to interpret everything in a moralistic manner. To such a person, absolutely everything is a matter of mental efficacy and moral virtue or lack thereof. Life is a morality play. If you're four feet tall and you get rejected by the NBA, it's only because you have a poor attitude and need to work harder. If you get cancer, it's because you don't believe in Jesus and don't live a clean life.

Mind over matter. Magic works.

This is, after all, the country where "Christian Science" was hatched.

(For the ad homies, I'm thin.)

bill said...

Taft was also the last president who sported facial hair. Is it possible for a guy with facial hair to be a serious presidential candidate these days?

Anonymous said...

Awesome picture of Taft on the water buffalo.

Thanks.

A bit off topic, but ever notice inverse correlation between a high school's probability of having an Anglo-Saxon name (Garfield, Roosevelt, Taft, Cleveland) and the probability of any given student being an Anglo-Saxon?

God, it's depressing to see what has happened to our inner cities.

What were thriving Anglo communities 125 years ago went Jew/Catholic 100 years ago, then Negro 50 or 60 years ago, and now Mexican Indian in the last 25 or 30 years.

To think that they were once substantive, vibrant [in the true sense of the word], productive neighborhoods is enough to break your heart.

And to see all the beautiful old WASP architecture falling apart - God, it's a tragedy...

Whiskey said...

No. Women will never vote for the fat guy. Obama is only 35% approval among White men but 43% among White women. Because he's Black (perceived more Masculine), tall, slender, and a Big Shot.

Fat guys appeal to men. Regular guy "Norm!" but are repulsive to women. See the "Ashley Madison" spot that is supposed to run on the Marriage Ref on Fox News website.

ironrailsironweights said...

By contrast, Putin sans shirt looked like he was living the rugged life that had resulted in that rugged torso. I admit it, I swooned.

Putin is an expert practitioner of sambo, an extremely violent form of martial arts developed in Russia.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Type in Chris Christie in Google and the first suggestion is 'fat'.

Not a good sign.

Mr. Anon said...

"stari_momak said...

Here's a classic picture of Taft, in his term as governor of the Philippines."

Great picture. Thanks. One story goes that Taft, while governor of the Phillipines, once cabled Secretary of War Elihu Root "Went on a horse ride today. Feeling good". Root replied "How's the horse?"

An interesting fact about Taft: in 1920, his house was burgled by the notorious rapist and serial killer, Carl Panzram, who stole Taft's handgun and used it to commit several murders.

Udolpho.com said...

there's something vaguely reassuring about a politician who isn't personally vain--not for long, usually, but briefly

Anonymous said...

Is Chris Christie's middle name "Calzone" by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Wow - that Carl Panzram stuff is just fascinating - it certainly tends to confirm the piece of folk-wisdom which holds that homosexuals are [many] orders of magnitude more likely to be serial killers.

Also - Wikipedia describes the "Panzrams" as generic "Prussian" immigrants, but that "young, liberal-minded prison guard named Henry Lesser", who urged Panzram to write his autobiography, was almost certainly a you-know-what.

ATBOTL said...

"Glenn Beck would win in a walk if he ran for president -- which he won't. But he's what millions upon millions are starving for -- an decent man who loves America and wants to preserve what's left of her."

Glenn Beck is about as sincere as a televangelist. I can't believe anyone is buying his act. I can only imagine what dirt would be dug up on him if he ran for president.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Wow - that Carl Panzram stuff is just fascinating - "

Crime Library has a much more detailed account of his monstrous exploits:

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/

He was one seriously evil dude - a walking plague. Although I don't believe he ever mentioned him, I wouldn't be surprised if Panzram served as a model for some of James Elroy's darker characters and plot-lines.

Anonymous said...

From Carl Panzram's Wiki entry:

"He was born Charles Panzram in Minnesota, the son of Prussian immigrants, Johann "John" and Matilda Panzram, and raised on his family's farm. By his teens, he was an alcoholic and was repeatedly in trouble with the authorities, usually for burglary and theft. He ran away from home at the age of 14 and claimed to have been gang raped by a group of hobos."

That's gotta really stink.

D. Colls said...

As Al Gore's political career has declined, so his size has increased. Look at a recent photo of him, and he has positively ballooned since he nearly became Prez in 2000. One would not call him fat yet, but he's much closer to the Cleveland than to the Obama end of the scale.