The issue of how America treats the overweight has come up several times on the Food Channel. Today, the subject is on a lot of people's minds after the New York Times ran an article about the role weight is playing the New Jersey gubernatorial race between incumbent Jon Corzine and challenger Christopher J. Christie:
In the ugly New Jersey contest for governor, Mr. Corzine and Mr. Christie have traded all sorts of shots, over mothers and mammograms, loans and lying. But now, Mr. Corzine's campaign is calling attention to his rival's corpulence in increasingly overt ways.
Mr. Corzine's television commercials and Web videos feature unattractive images of Mr. Christie, sometimes shot from the side or backside, highlighting his heft, jowls and double chin.
Most reactions have focused on the political ramifications of Corzine's strategy, with two pundits calling it "desperate" and another predicting what he calls "a (deserved) backlash." Instapundit said Corzine's tactics "just might work"--but only because it's New Jersey.
The most compelling reactions, though, question what Corzine's message says about our culture's attitude toward the overweight.
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg quotes from an email he received from David Kessler, former F.D.A. chief and author of The End of Overeating, who called Corzine's tactics cruel:
To be cruel to someone because of this struggle is just unacceptable. It shows a lack of understanding about human nature, and about the environment in which we live.
But fellow Atlantic editor Marc Ambinder warns against blaming Corzine alone. Ambinder points to the fact that voters are buying into the idea that Christie is defined by his weight: the Times article reports that "fat" is one of the first things that comes to people's minds when they think of Christie, according to a recent survey.