Friday, September 30, 2011
Mike Ramsey notes Stephen Feldman's review of Gary McDowell's book on originalism. I haven't read McDowell's book, but the review is a good example of the convention non-originalist view of originalism. It is a catalog of various criticism of originalism. As an originalist, I would say that the last generation has done much to rebut and refute these criticisms. So take a look at Feldman's review, but do realize that originalists have responses to these points.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie is said to be seriously considering running for the GOP nomination for POTUS. He would be, as I heard Bill Kristol has said, a big man for a big job. But is he too big? Is he too fat to be President?
This question could mean two things. Is he too fat to get elected; that is, would a majority of Americans vote for such a fat guy? And second, does his weight disqualify him from that high office? Neither of these questions are particularly delicate, but they are sufficiently interesting to merit a blog post, which is, granted, not a particularly high bar.
I have no special insight into the "optics", as the slang goes, of such a big guy running for President. I just have a few speculations. There is plenty of bias out there against fat people. It runs more against fat women than fat men, but it works both ways. There certainly are people, I would guess, for whom Christie's girth would weigh against him, especially when compared to the svelte Obama. OTOH some people find large men reassuring; they have a certain gravitas. On balance, I would guess Christie's weight would count as a negative on the margin.
It would be tricky, though, for the Obama campaign to take advantage of weight as an issue. There are a lot of fat Americans and whatever they (or, uh, we, if you believe that BMI nonsense) say, they are sensitive about it. It's hard not to be, when media role models are getting skinnier and skinnier as Americans get fatter and fatter. Efforts to even insinuate that Christie is too fat to be President are likely to backfire. But that needn't stop the Obama campaign from showing our President looking hale and fit, in his trim cut shirt, riding his bike, whatever. If Christie does run, expect to see lots of pictures of the athletic Obama. It would be helpful if Christie could develop a line as effective as Reagan's about age -- "I won't hold my opponent's youth and inexperience against him." What the equivalent would be for the girthonally challenged, I have no idea. He should really, really avoid saying anything analogous to Ross Perot's still horribly painful to recall observation that he was "all ears." Anybody who looks like the emaciated twin of Dumbo the Elephant should never say that.
A different question is Christie's health. As the reader may know, being fat is not good for you. You should be skinny, like your cardiologist. All Americans should eat as little and exercise as much as the healthiest one percent of Americans do. If Christie does (metaphorically speaking) run, he is going to have to answer the question of how healthy or unhealthy he currently is. People are going to want to know his LDL and HDL, his triglycerides and all the other numbers that, depending on whether they are high or low, can be really bad. No one wants a President who is going to up and die, as John Paul I, a holy but skinny man, did. You may not remember that, but it was really embarrassing. We did get John Paul II out of it, but there is no such thing as a Vice Pope and nobody who is going to be VPOTUS has the slightest chance of ever getting referred to as "the Great" after they die. That truly would be a miracle.
Christie would have to get out in front of this issue and get some medical expert to explain, yes, he should lose weight, but he was actually pretty healthy and there was little chance he would drop dead of a heart attack in the next 10 years or so. It is actually possible to be fit and fat. Many people in Wisconsin, for example, are fat, but could through a cow over their shoulder and run up a hill, if they could find a hill. Cows, of course, are plentiful in Wisconsin. Whether Christie could be both, fat and healthy, that is, I have no idea.
I can't say I'm looking forward to a national discussion of the issues around weight, health and risk of sudden death or disability. But it would beat the heck out of four more years of our current chief executive.
The proposed hanging of Youssef Nadarkhani is an outrage. It is also a terrifying glimpse of the injustice and arbitrary cruelty of the present Iranian regime. This paper opposes the death penalty always and everywhere, but at least when it is applied for murder or treason there is a certain twisted logic to the punishment. But Mr Nadarkhani's crime is neither murder nor treason. He is not even a drug smuggler. He is just a Christian from the city of Rasht, on the Caspian Sea, who refuses to renounce his faith. There is a pure and ghastly theatricality at the heart of this cruel drama which goes to the heart of religious freedom.
Jonah is right about this as well. I actually think American left-liberalism is even worse than (a probably semi-idealized form of) socialism. It's just rich progressives with the thinnest veneer of phony compassion for the poor, the unemployed etc. figuring ways to gather up more the in-kind and good old-fashionedt in-cash rents from the state. I suppose that is what socialism inevitably becomes anyway. This is just socialism for the middle, upper-middle and some of the really upper middle class.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011