For some reason, until Jon Stewart said it the other night, nobody had mentioned that current GOP savior and soon to be ex-GOP savior Chris Christie is a dead ringer for another colorful New Jersey character, Sopranos capo Bobby Bacala. Bobby was, as you'll recall, big-boned. Michael Kinsley thinks Christie's girth will make it impossible for him to be elected president:
Look, I'm sorry, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president: He is just too fat...
Unfortunately, the symbolism of Christie's weight problem goes way past the issue of obesity itself. It is just a too- perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch. And it's not just symbolism. We don't yet know much about Chris Christie. He certainly makes all the right noises about fiscal discipline and seems to have done well so far as governor of New Jersey. Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first.
Color me unconvinced. I think there are a lot of reasons Chris Christie won't be president, the most important of which is that as someone who got elected in a blue state, he's not nearly as conservative as the Republican party currently demands. He may hate teachers unions (yay!) but he also thinks Sharia panic is "crap" and "crazy" and he's not inclined to immigrant-bashing (boo!). The reason Republicans are so enamored of him is almost entirely about attitude. They've seen him on YouTube being a jerk to people, and they just love it. But that won't go too far if he becomes an actual candidate. I'm guessing that after a week or two of being the hot new thing, he'd fall to third place.
But back to the weight issue: We haven't had a plus-sized national politician in pretty much forever, so there aren't any examples to guide us. But when Christie ran for governor two years ago, his opponent, Jon Corzine, tried to not-so-subtly make fun of him for being fat, and it just made Corzine look petty and mean. And in an odd way, the weight issue could actually work to Christie's advantage. As I've argued many times, presidential candidates usually get reduced to a single character flaw, the thing late-night comedians can joke about and reporters can remind us of. John Kerry's stiff! John McCain's old! George W. Bush is dumb! And yeah, Chris Christie is fat. But there are a lot of worse things they could be saying about you.
Here's Bobby Bacala getting whacked. If you want to see this as a metaphor for what would happen to Christie once Republicans realize he's not really as conservative as they think, feel free.