I think this is the key passage in this very dumb and offensive column:
You’re on firmer ground claiming a bond with all humanity on the basis that the flesh is weak. On approximately this basis, we (at least I) have forgiven President Barack Obama his secret smoking (oh, of course he does) and some people (including me again, I guess) have forgiven President Bill Clinton his … well, you know. So why should Christie’s weight be more than we can bear in a president? Why should it even be a legitimate issue if he runs?
One reason is that a presidential candidate should be judged on behavior and character, not just on policies — especially because the chance these days of any actual policies being enacted is slim.
So, in other words, we don’t really care about setting a perfect health or moral example, not least because thus would be a really stupid way of judging presidents (unless you want to argue that George W. Bush was a better president than FDR.) But if it’s the kind of “health” issue that makes Michael Kinsley feel icky, then it matters, and indeed is some sort of moral issue. For all the high-minded sounding “obseity crisis” crap, this is about junior high school aesthetics. Which is really dumb and offensive and (sarcasm that doesn’t actually offer any refutation notwithstanding) irrational discrimination. Christie would not be a good president but his weight is neither here nor there.
…cf. also Eugene Robinson. And, actually, I don’t remember Robinson writing multiple columns about how Obama’s smoking habit made him unfit to be president, not least because this would be incredibly stupid.
…Chait, with as assist from some obscure law professor in the Mountain West, gets it right:
The only real reasoning I see here is that American elites view obesity with disgust, and they’re repulsed at the notion that a very fat guy could rise to a position of symbolic leadership. It’s not a very attractive sentiment.
Chait also notes another bizarre aspect of Kinsley’s argument, which is that 1)to justify his prejudice against fat people he accepts right-wing frames about how Runaway Government Spending in a period of mass unemployment is the greatest problem there absolutely ever was, but 2)then has to evade the fact that Christie in fact has cut spending. At some point, I lose count at the number of ways in which Kinsley’s ugly argument is self-refuting.
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