This morning’s TV news had an item about NJ Governor Chris Christie considering a run for the White House . Looking at the TV footage of Gov. Christie , I wonder whether he has any realistic chance of becoming President . My doubts arise because of his weight more than because of his politics . We Americans like our Presidents to look …um … Presidential and I don’t know that Gov. Christie fits the bill.
I remember reading a long time ago that the President of the U.S has two functions . In addition to carrying out his official duties , he has to look every inch the leader. Our first President , George Washington , fulfilled both roles admirably. His exemplary performance as President does not need to be repeated here but his looks are less well-known . Not at all like the stiff portrait we see on the dollar bill , George Washington was in fact very regal looking . He is described as being ” as straight as an Indian ,six feet two inches in his stockings, and weighing 175 pounds when he took his seat in the House of Burgesses in 1759. His frame is padded with well-developed muscles, indicating great strength. His bones and joints are large, as are his feet and hands. He is wide shouldered, neat waisted, broad across the hips, and with rather long legs and arms. His head is well-shaped though not large, and is gracefully poised on a superb neck. A large , straight rather than prominent nose; blue-gray penetrating eyes, which are widely separated and overhung by a heavy brow. His face is long rather than broad, with high round cheek bones, and terminates in a good firm chin. He has a clear though rather a colorless pale skin, which burns with the sun. A pleasing, benevolent, though a commanding countenance, dark brown hair, which he wears in a cue. His mouth is large and generally firmly closed . His features are regular and placid,though flexible and expressive of deep feeling when moved by emotion. In conversation he looks you full in the face, is deliberate, deferential and engaging. His voice is agreeable rather than strong. His demeanor at all times calm and dignified . His movements and gestures are graceful, his walk majestic .” In modern parlance , he would be described as a “hunk “or a “hottie”.
That was our first President ,and his successors , though not in his class , have generally been impressive looking specimens . To be sure , there have been some anomalies like the corpulent William Howard Taft , who weighed in excess of 300 lbs. In the modern era , every President beginning with Eisenhower has been tall and relatively slim . In fact, a height of 6 ft or more seems to be an absolute requisite. When Michael Dukakis ran for President , his campaign was undone when he posed for photos in a U.S army tank. At 5′-9″ he was not exactly a shrimp but he did not exactly inspire confidence . I know it is unfair but it does seem as if we judge our presidential candidates , at least partly , on the basis of their looks. An appreciable number of women voters , I suppose , want their President to be attractive while the men want him to look strong.
Governor Christie is certainly tall enough , but a hunk he is not . I am not sure if he weighs as much as President Taft did but he is definitely very heavy. This should not matter at all to the electorate . As the New York Times critic , Frank Rich said , what matters are a candidate’s politics , not his looks . I myself will not be voting for Christie , not because he is obese but because I don’t think he has done anything remarkable as Governor . I didn’t vote for him as Governor and I certainly don’t want to see him as President.