For the last few days, the media has not just pressed Chris Christie on his presidential ambitions.
It has also dwelled - rather uncomfortably - on his weight.
But should a politician's girth concern the punditocracy? Is it fair game in the same way that affairs, gaffes, and names of hunting lodges tend to be (see: Clinton, Bill; Palin, Sarah; and Perry, Rick)?
At first, the answer appeared to be yes. On September 29, both Michael Kinsley and Eugene Robinson penned op-eds blasting Christie for his weight and suggesting, at the very least, that it would pose problems for him as president.
Kinsley went even further: "Look, Iím sorry, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president: He is just too fat... It is just a too-perfect symbol of our country at the moment, with appetites out of control and discipline near zilch."
Robinson allowed for more flexibility on the issue. "Christieís problem with weight ceased being a private matter when he stepped into the public arena ó and itís not something you can fail to notice."
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Mika Brzezinski chided Robinson for advising the New Jersey Governor to "Eat a salad and take a walk," though Robinson stuck to his argument.
Frank Bruni shot back at Kinsley and Robinson by getting personal, writing about his own struggles with weight (as he did in a recent book). "My borderline obesity in my mid-30s," Bruni noted in the New York Times, "wasnít a sign of indolence and drift. Professionally, I was working harder and more reliably than ever."
In my view, Bruni has it right here.
Obesity is a problem, but it's Christie's problem. We have had presidents with health challenges before - think of FDR, who hid his paralysis for years and, ultimately, struggled with a weakened (and then failing) heart.
After all, if fitness and slimness foreshadowed good leadership, then Sarah Palin is surely the gal for us. Look at her amazing self-control! The many indicators of her longevity! We certainly wouldn't have to worry about Palin cutting her presidential tenure short.
Obviously, pant size is a poor measure of presidential character. We all know this from our own lives. Niceness, honesty, competence and intelligence have nothing to do with weight.
Of course, for an industry already obsessed with all things visual, it may be an occupational hazard. Sooner or later, though, let's hope the media figures out what really matters.
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