A weighty issue

Anyone who questioned how cutthroat a presidential campaign really is need only glance at this weekend’s news on the decision

Anyone who questioned how cutthroat a presidential campaign really is need only glance at this weekend’s news on the decision facing Gov. Chris Christie.

As Christie mulls over his potential run for president, columnists and pundits around the nation have begun to pontificate on the governor’s girth. Hundreds of media outlets have begun to run stories on Christie’s weight and the problems it may cause him in a presidential run.

Some, such as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, opine that his weight is irrelevant, while others such as Eugene Robinson, ironically also of the Washington Post say it’s not only an issue, but a deal breaker.

The subject has hit the Sunday morning circuit where Christie’s friends, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, have entered the fray, while his enemies, such as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have been asked but have so far declined to comment.

Indeed, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News, The New York Times, the above-mentioned Washington Post, Reuters, The L.A. Times and even Men’s Health have all taken the weight issue for a spin.

Even David Letterman has gotten in on the act, not once but twice focusing his famed Top 10 list on Christie’s corpulence.

The irony of the weight debate is that the subject of Christie’s waistline has for the past 20 months been all but taboo among New Jersey Statehouse reporters.  A search of the Star Ledger’s archives brings up only a few cursory mentions of the governor’s weight and only columnist Kevin Manahan broached it as an issue should Christie run for president.

On PolitickerNJ, it has been mentioned just once, in a story we ran last week about reasons Christie may stick around New Jersey awhile longer.

It was briefly a story last summer when Christie was taken to the hospital with what was reported later to be an asthma attack, but even those stories focused mostly on his asthma and not on his weight.

It wasn’t until he dipped a toe into the national pool that the scales came out.

The even greater irony is that one man who did bring it up was Christie’s opponent the last time he ran for office. In that race, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine took some not-so-veiled swipes at Christie’s heft and suffered some backlash for it. 

From that point forward, the issue was only whispered about.

In fact, some Statehouse journalists report going out of their way to eliminate phrases with a double entendre from their stories.  It may be a good thing they do.  It seems the fat police – or at least the fat joke police – are on the prowl searching for those in our profession who don’t couch their comments.

So the takeaway seems to be this: The issue seems to be fair game for journalists, but opponents take on the weight issue at their peril.

Besides, if your Rick Perry, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, Christie’s BMI is the least of your worries if he does decide to jump. A weighty issue