If only Chris Christie were a woman, his weight, and his ability to make jokes about his weight, would make him a folk hero. But the New Jersey governor is a dude, so his fat is a liability. Christie went on David Letterman on Monday night with a donut in hand, a calculation to "try to turn the potential negative into a positive," Politico's Maggie Haberman writes. But that's going to be hard, she says. "And by Wednesday, Christie had undercut his own strategy, saying a former White House doctor who expressed fears that his weight could be life-ending if he were president 'should shut up' since she hasn’t examined him and doesn’t know his medical history."
Christie fans and detractors alike thought it was a bad move. Former Clinton adviser Paul Begala told Politico, "blowing up at [former White House doctor Connie Mariano] was a missed opportunity. She is a great doc and a great human being and she was only saying what half the country was thinking." Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said, "If he has a biology-related problem (and I’m not sure he does), it may turn out to be more his thin skin than his ample girth."
There's a real-life example that shows that this is the rare moment when being male is a disadvantage. When a viewer emailed Wisconsin local news anchor Jennifer Livingston to say that she was too fat and therefore a bad role model for the community, her on-air response turned her into a celebrity. Her response was a lot like Christie's -- "you don't know me" -- though she added that kids should look to her example to understand they shouldn't "let your self-worth be defined by bullies." She was on the Today show, profiled in Glamour magazine, celebrated on women's blogs. She was an anti-"fat shaming" hero. Begala says Christie should lose 100 pounds like Mike Huckabee. Maybe he should just court Jezebel.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.