This article is from the archive of our partner .
It's not considered very nice to be mean to people just for being fat anymore, but there's a lot of pent-up desire to call fat people fatties that gets unleashed when a fat person like Jim Sensenbrenner really has it coming. Sensenbrenner publicly said Michelle Obama has a big butt, and now he must suffer the consequences: the unearthing of every photo of his double chin and Santa belly ever taken, shown next to a smiling, healthy, athletic first lady.
FishbowlDC's Betsy Rothstein
reports that the Wisconsin congressman was caught talking "very loud" about Obama's anatomy -- "she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself." He was at a church auction December 10, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
's Daniel Bice
reports, when according to witness Ann Marsh-Meigs, a 72-year-old retiree, he started taking shots at Obama. Marsh-Meigs told Bice, "He then talked about how different first ladies have had different projects -- Laura Bush and literacy -- and he named two or three others... And then he said, 'And Michelle Obama, her project is obesity. And look at her big butt.'" Sensenbrenner's spokeswoman told Rothstein
, who pointed out a flaw in Sensenbrenner's figure, "I am not going to comment on my boss’ 'behind.'" That sort of proves the anecdote's obvious point -- Sensenbrenner's comments were tasteless -- but who expects the Internet to stop there? Let's talk about his body!
Michelle-Obama-is-fat is one of the right wing's favorite memes. Rush Limbaugh calls Obama fat all the time, but it's relatively risk-free for him since people call him fat all the time, too. Poor Sensenbrenner probably didn't know what he was inviting by discussing this meme outside old people's forwarded emails. But it raises the question: why are certain conservatives so fixated on calling Obama fat?
Liberals are hypocrites. Liberals want to make all kinds of rules for you, but they exempt themselves. Obama wants kids to not hit 200 pounds before fourth grade, even though she sometimes eats ribs.
Obama is fashionable. The first lady is known for her outfits -- and therefore probably a little vain, if she cares enough not to wear the boring Escada suits worn by many first ladies. So calling her fat probably hurts her feelings.
Obama is black.
And maybe, maybe
-- as several bloggers
have hinted at -- they like calling her fat because she's black. White people think black women have big butts and are particularly sensitive to this because they think black people think white women have flat butts. What do black and white male butts stereotypically look like? We will never know, because male behinds matter less in public life, unfortunately. Thank you for making strides towards changing that, Rep. Sensenbrenner.
: Sensenbrenner sent a personal note to Obama to apologize, the Chicago Sun-Times
' Lynn Sweet
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.
is the former politics editor for The Wire