We are launching a new page tracking obesity in politics. This is more than just celebrity weight loss. How public figures address their own, their opponent’s and our obesities, can affect the extent to which they feel free or mandated to promote or oppose more effective anti-obesity policies.
You will recall that Michelle Obama’s campaign on childhood obesity set off attacks from the right, notably Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Mick Huckabee, a possible Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination and no stranger to weight loss, came to her defense.
Yet, obesity still carries personal stigma that some candidates cannot resist using as when former Senator John Corzine, running for Governor of New Jersey, tried unsuccessfully to use his opponent’s weight against him in a negative ad. When Asked Whether Christie Is Fat, Corzine Responds: ‘Am I Bald?’ | TPMDC
The opponent, Chris Christie, won and is himself talked about as a possible Presidential contender.
This May, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour took himself out of the Presidential race. His seriousness for running for President was indicated by his hiring top consultants and losing weight. But he said he didn’t have the requisite fire in the belly (I don’t think this is about metabolism.) Barbour rules out bid for president | The Clarion-Ledger | clarionledger.com
There is no lack of a double standard here. Columnist David Sirota has commented that while Rush Limbaugh, Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie regularly get attention as serious leaders, no woman even vaguely approaching their size would be taken seriously. Why the fat guy should lose his privilege.