"Do you think Chris Christie is fat?" the reporter repeated, point blank.

The governor patted his pate and asked, "Am I bald?" without missing a beat -- eliciting lots of laughs from other reporters

So long as television does politics, image and sound will matter more than words. That's why, despite the fact that our frontal cortex's moralism insists that Creigh Deeds's mild stuttering should not matter,  despite the fact that Chris Christie's obesity should not matter, it will matter. It's not what ought to be; it's what is. But here is where some political consultants seem to go off the rails. To paraphrase Alan Bennett, voters don't mind when a politician's tongue is in her cheek... they do mind when they suspect their hearts are in it, too.  In other words: it's ok to notice these things. It's even ok to joke about them -- subtly.  But because voters like to think that they judge politicians on their merits, even as they are subconsciously influenced by visuals and sound and their own presuppositions, they don't like it when people force them to make superficial judgments.  And that's what Jon Corzine, in his mean little jab above, has done.  From the standpoint of stigma, comparing baldness to fatness is like comparing Captain Picard's ethics to Quark's 

 

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