Monday, August 04, 2008

Obama - Too Fit to Be President?

When this topic came up in the comments on another blog, I thought it had to be a joke. After all, this is the country that worships celebrities who are doing everything that they can do to stay fit and trim, by whatever means they have to. We have CHILDREN going on diets, and tanning earlier than ever, getting their own personal trainers.

But, here it is, in the Wall Street Journal. (Now, you could debate about whether this sort of piece would have been in the WSJ- BRM (before Rupert Murdoch), but there it is, in the most influential newspaper in the country.)

Too Fit to Be President?
Facing an Overweight Electorate,
Barack Obama Might Find
Low Body Fat a Drawback
August 1, 2008; Page W1

Speaking to donors at a San Diego fund-raiser last month, Barack Obama reassured the crowd that he wouldn't give in to Republican tactics to throw his candidacy off track.

"Listen, I'm skinny but I'm tough," Sen. Obama said.

But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.

Did I imagine that none of these questions came up when George Bush was running? Did I imagine that we got story upon story about Bush's early morning fitness routine? I guess it was all in my imagination, and that as America got fatter, it wasn't a problem. Only became a problem when the physically fit Black man who is not a professional athlete is running for President. After all, there's no problem cheering on the legions of physically fit Black Gladiator Athletes who get on a sports worry about whether THEY are 'truly like them', because they are there for entertainment purposes.

Who are the idols in this country? Come on, you know the truth about this. This is a youth obsessed, perfection obsessed country.

But, Barack and Michelle Obama (yes, Michelle too, because she is no ' Mammy'-type), are two people who take physical fitness and health to heart, and suddenly, there's a story about Obama being 'too fit' to lead this country?

And folks want to tell us that we're being paranoid about people finding anything they possibly can to criticize Obama about in this election.

The candidate has been criticized by opponents for appearing elitist or out of touch with average Americans. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in July shows Sen. Obama still lags behind Republican John McCain among white men and suburban women who say they can't relate to his background or perceived values.

I didn't know physical fitness was now a ' perceived value'.

Appearing elitist is another word for UPPITY.

Out-of-touch, um ok. The man, who just 3 years ago, was spending more on his student loan payments than his MORTGAGE, is out-of-touch than the son and grandson of ADMIRALS, who grew up a Navy brat, got into Annapolis through family connections, and married a woman with so many homes, that they can ' forget' to pay taxes on one FOR YEARS. Oh yes, I can see how the son of a single mother, raised by his barely middle-class grandparents, who was the ' Scholarship Kid' at a ritzy school, oh yes, I can see how HE can be out-of-touch as compared to Mr. Private Plane.

"He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones," says Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

"I won't vote for any beanpole guy," another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

The last overweight president to be elected was 335-pound William Howard Taft in 1908. As for tall and lanky presidents, "you might have to go back to Abraham Lincoln" in 1860, says presidential historian Stephen Hess. "Most presidents were sort of in the middle."

According to Sen. Obama's Chicago physician David Scheiner, the senator works out regularly, jogs up to three miles a day when he can, and has "no excess body fat."

When THIS is the reason you can pick for not really supporting Obama, just come out and admit you're not voting for The Black Man, because BS like these quotes make one seem patently absurd.

I'll speak for no one else, but, as an African-American, whose community is plagued disproportionally by obesity and the diseases that come-a-courting with it, I welcome the Obamas as examples. I welcome that they believe in good health, and understand that so many diseases are preventable. I welcome that they saw an issue possibly coming up with Malia, and took a look at what they were bringing into their house and changed the quality of foods coming into their house, as to be good examples for their daughters.

I have lived of what I speak and know the struggle. Is a consistent exercise routine hard? Yes. Does it require commitment? Yes. Should we be happy to have a candidate who has displayed a consistent commitment to this issue? Yes.

We are a country where healthcare costs are spiraling out of control. While some health issues are genetics related, a great deal more are preventable. We have companies at every turn who are investing in Wellness/Health centers for their employees, providing incentives for losing weight. And, there's a question of whether Obama's HEALTH is a liability?

The foolishness of this campaign season is becoming more obvious on a daily basis.

Would SHE be more acceptable if she were a 'Mammy' figure?


The Angry Independent said...

They have to find something I guess.

Remember my commentary "Obama's Fading Hope"? I talk about this in an indirect way... when I mentioned that Americans want someone who they can identify with (both physically and ideologically). Many voters want someone who looks like them. And I guess physical fitness is another factor that some might use. So there might be a grain of truth to some of this.

But there is probably an up side to this as well. His fitness may be part of why he appeals to younger voters (who identify with his relative youth and vibrancy) and with the more health concious Western and Northwestern voters (that support is no coincidence). His fitness may help signal "turning the page" to something different. Remember... this is supposed to be a change depending on what it is, "different" may not be so long as the differences are not used to stoke fear (as is the case with race & skin color these cases..."different" is more a hindrance & obstacle rather than a plus).

Besides, who wants a sickly President? And Clinton was in great shape as well when he started (one of the most fit up to that point). I've been through 7 Presidents in my lifetime...and only one was in decent shape...all others were on the tired side. It will be nice to have someone vibrant and only 12 years older than myself. It might make me feel small (when I compare accomplishments because we are only a decade apart, accomplishing not a damn thing...and Obama rising to the Presidency) but I can live with that. I'll get used to it.

But in the end, I don't think this is going to be what hinders him. There are probably ten other things higher up on that list.

Andre said...

Hey Rikyrah,

I tell you: we've got some sort of telepathy. We are so on the same page with this story. Even our summations are almost identical:

"The ridiculousness of this political campaign is getting more and more evident by the day"

Good post. I'm just sad you had to write it.