On behalf of the 39.5 percent of Americans who are obese and the 34.2 percent who are merely chubby, a heartfelt “thanks” to Chris Christie for not running. He saved us 1,461 straight days of fat jokes, had he been elected POTUS, and that is not even counting the campaign itself.
For certain, I know that lots of folks thirst for fat humor. On a recent night before the New Jersey governor reiterated that he really, really, really, was not a candidate, Letterman did no fewer than 19 jokes about the “tubby guy across the river,” as he so delicately put it, and said he wanted Christie to run because “I want to be able to say ‘bring it, fat boy.’ ” Now that, my friends, is what humor is all about! Even little Jimmy Fallon, the St. Rose grad, was mock-thanking Christie for “waiting and waiting and waiting” to announce his decision, Jimmy then concluding that Christie has a “real weight problem” (see kids, what you have here is a play on the words “wait” and “weight;” now who says that you too cannot create stuff like that?)
Christie claims to harbor no enmity for the late night yuksters with jokes like (Letterman) “he would be the first American president visible from space.” The Garden State governor, who probably goes about 330-340 (he will not say), told a Trenton gathering of reporters this week, “It is not a news flash to me that I am overweight. I am not particularly self-conscious about it.” If so, if he truly is not self-conscious, that would make him probably the seventh or eighth fat guy in the entire world who is not self-conscious about the flab. One who lived in Sri Lanka recently passed away.
Late Night’s Dave, never a stickler for sophisticated humor, did his top ten list of stuff that would happen were Christie the president: “Number 7, a new state: Fatassachusetts.” Can you believe it, Dave pays people to write things like that? And with Sarah Palin apparently not running, there is minor terror in the laugh-writing ranks these days as they search for material. I mean, how long can you roast Michele Bachmann for confusing John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy?
If Gov. Christie has no ill feelings for the comedy boys — he says they’re simply doing their jobs, that he’s “fair game” as a public figure (a dashing figure, I would add) and, besides some of it is even funny — he IS teed at the make-believe serious guys. Those effete types who did very earnest pieces expressing concern about Christie’s weight and how it impacts his health, or, even worse, the despicables who questioned whether and how a man who demonstrates no self-control in his avoirdupois can have that kind of discipline in areas that would affect millions of Americans.
“They are among the most ignorant people,” Christie told the Trenton audience, “these people who pretend to be serious but they further stigmatize people in a way that is irrelevant to their ability to do a particular job.”
William Howard Taft, our fattest president to date at 340 pounds or so (get that big and estimates will do) likewise claimed not to be hurt by the fat jokes. After losing the election of 1912, Big Bill, as I like to call him, was recruited by Yale University to accept a Chair of Law at the New Haven school. Taft replied good naturedly that a chair was not adequate, but if the university would offer a Sofa of Law then “it might be all right.” But politicians understand that amplitude can be costly at the polls. Ted Kennedy would diet every six years (big head sizes you are pretty much stuck with) and I recall, back in May of 2010, when she was tapped by New York Democrats
to remain in her Senate seat, one of Kirsten Gillibrand’s people told me that she recently had lost 55 pounds. Huckabee lost twice that poundage and turned it into a cable news career.
As for Christie, despite all the enthusiasm, his candidacy never was a for-certain, even had he run. Fiscally conservative and socially kind of moderate, the governor describes himself as a Reagan-like practitioner of “principled compromise,” at a time when Republicans do not seem much interested in compromise.
Still, one can dream of that inauguration, cannot one? Richard Simmons on the Capitol steps holding the book as our first commander-in-Spanx is sworn in; “big-boned” women with wonderful personalities dancing the night away with gentlemen in tuxes bearing “one size fits all” tags; guest appearances by the stars of “The Biggest Loser,” and there, in the middle of it all, the only politician in America who never will be accused of being thin-skinned.