The NYT reports on the New Jersey governor’s race, and states pretty baldly that the incumbent, Jon Corzine, is making his opponent’s size a campaign issue:
It is about as subtle as a playground taunt: a television ad for Gov. Jon S. Corzine shows his challenger, Christopher J. Christie, stepping out of an S.U.V. in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once. …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.
The story includes a link to the slo-mo FatCam ad, and maybe I’ve been living in the corpulent Midwest too long, but I don’t see it. He’s a big guy for sure, but I don’t see the moving-in-different-directions part, although it could be my monitor. Like many Americans, almost everything I know about New Jersey I learned from watching “The Sopranos,” and let me just say, Christie is no Bobby Bacala. (Neither is Bobby Bacala; he wore prosthetic flab for much of the series.) But the story raises an interesting point: No language is as minutely fly-specked as campaign ad copy, and surely the ad, which says Christie “threw his weight around,” was designed as a poke in the spare tire.
There aren’t many groups of people you can pick on with impunity, but fat people are one of them, because it’s all their fault, you know. If they wanted to be thin, they could, if they’d just get some exercise, scrape half the food off their plates, park in the far reaches of the lot, have different parents, etc. I suppose, if Christie wanted to make an issue out of it, he could mention that Corzine nearly died in a car crash when the gubernatorial SUV crashed on the Garden State Parkway, and that his injuries were surely exacerbated by the fact he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The only reason it’s permissible to criticize fatties is because obesity drives up health-care costs, etc. — you’ve heard this before. So do car crashes with unrestrained human beings bouncing around inside.
Of course, that would be seen as extreme dirty pool. Better to fight back with humor, as former Baywatch baby Nicole Eggert demonstrates. On the other hand, humor is likely in short supply in any political campaign. Especially in New Jersey.
Fun fact to know and tell: New Jersey is one of the leanest states, according to CalorieLab Inc., which ranked it 42nd in obesity last year. So says the NYT. I’d never have imagined.
Living in Michigan resets many of your meters, including the Hard Times gauge. We’re in the midst of a California-style budget fiasco, and some of the nickels and dimes the state is looking to pick up are fascinating. There’s a proposal on the table to allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m., if they’re willing to pay $1,500 for an enhanced license. It’s estimated to raise $13 million and change, not enough to make a huge difference, but what the hell. The restaurant business says, “Great idea, but that’s way too much to charge.” Municipalities say, um, no. Just what a hard-drinking state like Michigan needs: More time to drink.
Fun fact to know and tell: The city commissioner of Royal Oak, a suburb with lots of bars and restaurants, is named Terry Drinkwine. I love reality. It’s so much more amusing than fiction.
But for real drama on the hard-times front, you couldn’t beat the scene at Cobo Center yesterday. The city had announced it would be making emergency grants of federal money to families in danger of losing their homes or utilities. They had the means to help about 3,400 families; 50,000 people showed up. The crowd got restless, then angry, and six people had to be taken away by ambulance.
Apparently the problem was rumors that they’d be handing out cash on the barrelhead. Well, that and the 28 percent unemployment rate.
OK, then. I have just enough time to try to beat Eric Zorn at the crossword before I have to go to the gym, in my vain attempt to stave off looking like Chris Christie. At least I’ll have rock-hard abs under all that flab.