I honestly don’t understand the media obsession with Chris Christie’s weight. Yeah, he’s a big guy, so what? If you’re going to go after Christie, he’s got a long record of wingnuttery and semi-ethical New Jersey political nonsense to shine the spotlight on.
One of the most persistent stories that dogged Christie in his 2009 campaign was his unusual financial relationship with a top aide at his federal prosecutor office, Michele Brown. Christie lent Brown some $46,000, which he says was to help a family friend through a rough patch. But critics argued that the move was an improper conflict of interest heading into a gubernatorial campaign since Brown was in a position to help Christie in a variety of ways. Her job included handling FOIA requests, including those from Governor Corzine’s campaign, for example. And in one instance, she argued to colleagues in favor of wrapping up a major corruption probe before July 1, when Christie’s successor took over the US Attorney position, a move that ensured credit for the case would clearly flow to Christie. Brown resigned shortly after news of the loan broke and, according to the New York Times, she paid off Christie’s loan in October 2010.
It wasn’t the only allegation of conflict of interest that Christie fought off. The then-US Attorney testified before Congress on a series of no-bid monitoring contracts worth millions that he awarded to various law firms. One contract, worth up to $52 million, went to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christie’s old mentor. Another former US Attorney chosen for a monitoring contract, David Kelley, had previously investigated Christie’s brother in a stock fraud case in 2005 — he was not indicted while fifteen others were. Top lawyers at another firm he awarded a major contract to later donated about $24,000 to his campaign. Christie said the contracts were awarded on merit and accused Corzine of “character assassination” for raising the issue.
He was also accused of mishandling his office’s budget as US Attorney. In a 2010 report by the DOJ’s Inspector General, he was identified as one of the most profligate federal prosecutors in the country from 2007 to 2009, spending taxpayer cash on luxury hotels that exceeded government rates by as much as $242 a night. Christie said during the 2009 campaign that his office overspent only when there were no alternatives.
There are a number of serious ethical and corruption issues surrounding the New Jersey governor and they have nothing to do with his weight. The more I see serious news organizations like Reuters engage the ridiculous “debate” over Christie’s size, the greater disservice to what should be the actual debate is done. Pretty soon we’re going to be at the point where people will only talk about his size and not his record or corruption issues, and people will tune out “another story about Christie’s waistline or whatever” even when the actual reasons as to why he shouldn’t be in charge of anything are finally discussed.
No, I don’t think Christie has anything close to a real shot at the White House because of his issues as a blue state governor in a blood-red primary season and his record is pretty repugnant, but honestly I find the constant stories about the “challenges” Christie faces because of his size about as ridiculous as the stories about the “challenges” women or minority candidates face in politics (not to belittle issues that do exist, but silly me, I believe a candidate should be judged on policy and record.) What I mean by that is whatever actual issues that may arise from stories about Christie’s weight are used for their “HA HA shock factor,” not to actually have a debate. It’s been done to death with Hillary Clinton’s gender and President Obama’s race, Keith Ellison, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman’s religion, etc. It’s obnoxious:
Speculation that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will enter the U.S. presidential race has led to a feverish debate about the possibility of having the fattest man in the White House since the corpulent William Howard Taft squeezed behind the big desk in the Oval Office.
Replace that “fattest man in the White House” language with any other description of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion and you see what the problem is. Why is this acceptable? And this is Reuters, folks. Why not just call him President Truffle Shuffle and be done with it, Reuters. Criminy.
So yeah, lay off the size stuff and check the guy’s record. Not only does this guy not deserve to be President, his crony capitalism adventures mean he shouldn’t be in politics at all. The size issue is a smokescreen but it’s the latest shiny object to chase this week for our Awesome Media Guys.