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Who Wants a Fat President?

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie admitted having lapband surgery on February 16th, citing long-term health, not political ambition, as the motive. But I suspect it couldn’t hurt: if you’re a voter, would you vote for a candidate at the butt of so many fat jokes?

So far, he’s down 40 pounds. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters this week that he underwent lapband surgery on the morning of February 16th, adding that he originally intended to have the procedure back in November, but that Superstorm Sandy put that plan to a screeching halt.

Some voters suspect that Christie, who entered the Republican race for the presidency in 2012, but didn’t make it past the primaries, will emerge from the surgery as a better-looking prospect (literally) in 2016, but the governor dismisses a future presidential bid as his motive. He says he turned 50, and realized “you are confronted with your own mortality as you age.”

But let’s face it: in our celebrity-obsessed culture, where even the most beautiful actress who’s ever graced the silver screen is cut to pieces for gaining half-an-ounce, who seriously believes that the masses would be okay with voting for a candidate as overweight as Christie has been? It’s not that we don’t like our political leaders to be walking punchlines, but appearance matters.

And we all know it.

The first real proof of the importance of appearance in a presidential race was provided courtesy of the first live televised presidential debate in 1960. When John Kennedy and Richard Nixon stood head to head, Kennedy had a nice tan and used makeup. Nixon looked pale and refused makeup. Oddly enough, it is long understood that most who listened to the debate on the radio give Nixon the edge; those who watched the debate gave Kennedy the clear win.

More than 50 years later, looks still make a big difference, given the fact that pundits are calling the surgery a “clear sign” Christie will run for the White House.

It’s no secret that people who are overweight get treated differently. If you’ve never experienced that, I would respectfully suggest that you aren’t overweight “enough.” If you were, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about.

The ironic thing is that as fat as Americans are getting these days, with record numbers falling into the “obese” category, our society is still so focused on wanting everyone slim and trim.

Everyone else, that is.

In a “do as I say, not as I do” way.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.