Update: Now Bloomberg’s Michael Kinsley has gotten into the act and is even more blunt: “Look, I’m sorry, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president: He is just too fat.”
As you can imagine, the above headline caught my attention this morning on washingtonpost.com. It was a piece by Post columnist Gene Robinson, who is usually a level-headed pundit. Then I heard a discussion of it on Morning Joe, where Robinson often appears as an analyst. Commentators on the show were giving him hell for the piece.
So while munching on my tuna sandwich at midday, I read it. And I must say that I’m shocked that a national opinion writer would spend an entire column opining on N.J. Gov. (and potential presidential candidate) Chris Christie’s weight.
To be fair, Robinson wasn’t exactly calling Christie a fat slob. And he correctly noted how obesity adds greatly to our nation’s healthcare costs. But he was drawing attention to a matter normally considered too personal, even by national political standards. Consider:
Christie is just 49 and has four young children; politics aside, I’m sure he wants to be around to share the milestones in their lives. He prides himself on bullheaded determination and speaks often about the need for officials to display leadership. Well, Gov. Christie, lead thyself.
Robinson further suggested that Christie “eat a salad and take a walk.”
I recall during the 2009 N.J. governor’s race, incumbent Jon Corzine ran an ad accusing Christie of “throwing his weight around” as U.S. attorney — a not-so-subtle reference to his opponent’s girth. But even in heavily Democratic New Jersey, it backfired. The Republican Christie bested Corzine by 3.5 points in a three-way race.
Oddly, the Robinson column could have the same effect, which is ironic considering that Robinson conceded that “Politically, I disagree with Christie on almost everything.”
But does Robinson have a double standard?
Christie’s weight is as legitimate an issue as the smoking habit that President Obama says he has finally kicked.
Did Robinson write an entire column on Obama’s weakness for Marlboro Lights? If not, then I can only conclude Robinson wrote today’s column because he doesn’t like Christie’s politics.
That’s when good editors come in handy. Isn’t there anyone at The Post’s copy desk who can look a star columnist in the eye and say, “Are you sure you really want to go with this?”