Monday, December 22, 2014

Is it OK to ask Christie if he's too fat?

Barbara Walters featured the gov on "10 Most Fascinating People" special Wednesday night. She asked: "I feel very uncomfortable asking this question when I'm sitting opposite you, but you are a little overweight...there are people who say that you couldn't be president because you're so heavy, what do you say to them?"

Is it OK to ask Christie if he's too fat?

Gov. Christie walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Christie is in Washington to discuss aid to help his state recover from Superstorm Sandy. President Obama is expected to ask Congress for about $50 billion in additional emergency assistance. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Gov. Christie walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Christie is in Washington to discuss aid to help his state recover from Superstorm Sandy. President Obama is expected to ask Congress for about $50 billion in additional emergency assistance. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Barbara Walters featured the gov on "10 Most Fascinating People" special Wednesday night. She asked: "I feel very uncomfortable asking this question when I'm sitting opposite you, but you are a little overweight...there are people who say that you couldn't be president because you're so heavy, what do you say to them?"

Christie responded: "That’s ridiculous...I think people watched me for the last number of weeks in Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days and getting right back up the net day and still being just as effective in the job, so I don’t really think that will be a problem." 

The next day, on a "Today" show panel entitled "Weighing In," commentator Donny Deutsch said his weight helps him because it makes him an "everyman." Panelist Nancy Snyderman countered that since Christie couldn't enter the military because he weighs too much, how can he be commander-in-chief? She also said he shouldn't eat ice cream in public.

I won't "weigh in" on the intellectual heft of these arguments, but I will tell you despite some grumbling online that Walters' question wasn't legitimate and indicated Christie's "media honeymoon" is over, I believe the question is in bounds. And that's for this reason: As a guy who covers Christie, I am asked about his weight by friends, family, sources and readers more than I am asked about any other aspect of his governorship.

How much does he weigh? Has he gained weight? Does his weight affect his job performance? Does it mean he's undisciplined? Either out of genuine interest/concern or just puerile curiousity, people care.  And when I wrote this story last year - "Is Christie too fat to be president?" - I received more comments than any story I've ever written about Christie.

At The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza agreed that the question is fair, not just because of the necessity of having a healthy president but because of the optics in a campaign: "Running for president in this modern age has become as much about who you are as what you believe. Selling the narrative of a life trumps all — in the minds of many voters and most of the media."

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