New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie regularly makes national news for his large personality—but this week he's been making it for something else: his large physique. His weight was a topic during his appearance on David Letterman on Monday, and was also criticized by a former White House doctor.
The New Jersey governor is thought to be a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and Dr. Connie Mariano, Bill Clinton's doctor while he was president, said she wants Christie run. But she said on CNN, "I'm worried about this man dying in office … It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office."
Christie replied with is typical snark, calling Mariano "just another hack who wants five minutes on TV:"
I find it fascinating that a doctor in Arizona who's never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history, could make a diagnosis from 2,400 miles away. She must be a genius.
On David Letterman, Christie sparred with the talk show host over Letterman's frequent punch lines attacking the governor's waist line. Over doughnuts, Christie told Letterman that if "the joke is funny, I laugh, even if it's about me." He said he finds about 40 percent of the host's jokes to be amusing, "But I've never felt like it was, you know, anything that really bugged me all that much."
Christie did address the issue at a press conference Tuesday, saying there's no reason his weight would prevent him from doing his job properly:
For folks who have struggles with their weight, if you talk to anyone in this room who has a struggle with their weight what they will tell you is that every week, every month, every year, there’s a plan. There’s a plan. And so the idea that somehow I don’t care about this, of course I care about it. And I’m making the best effort I can.
Some wonder, however, whether or Christie's should even have to defend himself. America has a serious obesity problem to be sure, but U.S. News's Susan Milligan says that's no cause for Christie's body to be discussed publicly:
Only Christie's own physician can say what sort of health dangers the governor faces—and being of optimum weight is certainly no guarantee that a president won't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease—let alone being felled by an assassin's bullet. Yes, being very overweight is not considered good for one's overall health. But health isn't really what this is about. It's about a judgment that fat people are by definition lazy or undisciplined. Fat masquerades as a health issue in politics, but it's at heart a character issue for people who think it's their business to weigh in on other people's body size.
She also says that "national nannying" about weight has hardly had an impact—two thirds of the country is overweight, with half of them being clinically obese.
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