Chris Christie Is Dangerous, Angry, and Fat
By Richard Conehoner, Published: October 3
(If you must, read Richard Cohen’s original here)
Chris Christie must have spent the last week feeling a bit like one of those dead bodies on a crime show (which, since they’re dead, don’t really have feelings but you get the general idea). He was poked and prodded, turned this way and that, examined from head to toe. He was found to be too fat, too obese, too overweight, too high in his body mass index and — not insignificantly — too large. Running for president is like intensive psychoanalysis. You find out a lot about yourself, except in this case, it’s made up by us in the media instead of through traditional self-discovery.
Right from the get-go, Christie was denounced as criminally obese not just by some impotent columnists — Eugene Robinson and Michael Kinsley (both infuriatingly trim, especially between the ears) — but, more importantly, on “The View,” a television show presided over by Barbara Walters. It was not Walters, though, who found the Republican governor of New Jersey too oval for the Oval Office, but — most vociferously — the unbiased Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd. This, though, is no laughing matter.
They raised health issues. They raised willpower issues. They raised self-discipline issues — all of which are real, because, among other things, in a presidential campaign anything is an issue. They ignored other issues like experience, and more fundamentally, competency, which some assert has become an impediment to Barack Obama’s reelection. Recall that just recently Barack Obama’s religion and place of birth were issues. Both were easily addressed — Obama had his papers created and then failed to provide them — but questions persisted anyway and the Obama campaign, and finally the president himself, had to deal with them. Christie, even though he’s a Republican, is probably a human being — but can he prove it?
At the same time the media was telling Christie that he’s too fat — an issue that John Murtha, Bill Clinton, and Tip O’Neil managed to skillfully avoid — others were preparing a game book about how to deal with him in a debate. The playbook, were it written by Democrat operatives, would certainly say that he should be attacked for his weight. It’s a brilliant and original strategy.
Avoiding basic issues like assessing Christie’s competence represents the real opportunity for his opponents. He eats a lot when he’s hungry, a problem many (“many” is code for my friends and I) call gluttony. In New Jersey debates, he used TV software to make himself appear thinner but still comes off as fat. I also think he eats to address his personal anger and that means the long-planned retort, the calculated rejoinder — the scripted “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment — will never be his. He has to be nice on TV, but Chris Christie is really angry and mean. And fat.
Christie also has bad judgment. When Christie wanted to attend one of his son’s baseball games, something Obama would never do because he doesn’t have any sons (and not that we’d tell anyway), he wanted to use a state-provided helicopter. And just so we’re clear here, using Air Force One and Marine One or having the Secret Service cover the FLOTUS’s run to Target for an “unplanned” photo op is simply not the same. When the reality-television (I’m told that’s an oxymoron) show “Jersey Shore” came up for a $420,000 state tax credit, Christie blocked it. The governor has a problem discerning where the state leaves off and he begins. “Jersey Shore” is a lousy, tasteless program and a reflection of Christie. And did I tell you he’s fat?
Christie is intelligent enough for a fat man but he’s been governor for less than two years. Yes, think how we’ve seen Obama grow into a fine and highly capable President (and except for foreign policy, the economy, and the federal deficit, overcome everything Bush), but Christie has already exhibited the “tells” of grandiosity and implacable certainty: statements like the seas will stop rising, peace is at hand, the world will self-heal, and that sort of foolishness.
Washington’s problem is that too many politicians think they have a lock on the truth and the media’s problem is that they think they have a lock on American thinking. The town oozes belligerence and pettiness, qualities Christie has in abundance along with his fat. President Obama has worked diligently to make America into a peaceful and benign food-stamp nation and the last thing we need is an angry, mean, fat President like Christie to undo all his good work.