The media gets physical with the studly Paul Ryan — anything to avoid dealing with the substance of the Ryan/Romney ticket.
Even fitness guru Tony Horton couldn’t have imagined the transformation he helped generate, the political alchemy of turning House Budget Committee Chairman and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) from a self-described policy wonk into the studliest guy on a presidential ticket since JFK.
At least that’s what you’d think if you paid attention to the news media or the Internet over the past week.
I couldn’t get myself to try that particular search, but I do note that a Google search of “Paul Ryan P90X” turns up hundreds of results.
On Thursday night, CNN’s Piers “half as many viewers as Rachel Maddow” Morgan interviewed Tony Horton, the creator of the P90X workout program, trying in the most desperate way to get the personal trainer to say something bad about Paul Ryan.
After showing a photo of Paul Ryan on the campaign trail eating a very yummy looking lunch, Morgan, who doesn’t look like the heart-healthiest guy around, offered this deep insight: “Now that is one of the biggest hot dogs I’ve ever seen. Massive amount of fries around him. Looks like a lot of Cokes as well. Now that’s a bad move, isn’t it?” Horton wouldn’t bite, if you’ll pardon the pun.
An apparently envious Morgan also suggested that Ryan was either obsessive or unhealthy to have such low body fat and even asked Horton whether Ryan “was a good payer,” to which Horton replied that he worked with various members of Congress free of charge.
CNBC also interviewed Tony Horton on Friday morning. “Squawk on the Street” co-host Melissa Lee (a 37-year old Harvard College grad who hosted a CNBC special on “Porn: The Business of Pleasure” and apparently knows a hottie when she sees one) began the discussion saying “before the budget plan there was a beach body…the man behind the physique is Tony Horton.” (Apparently the Ryan rush is helping P90X business during what is usually the slowest time of the year for sales, showing that just by having fun Ryan does more to help the economy than Barack Obama does when he’s actually trying.)
And you know you’ve made it as an A-list hot-body celeb when TMZ.com trumpets having a photo of you, as that site did on Friday with a posting entitled “The Topless Photo” showing Ryan and his wife, Janna, in swimsuits several years ago. (One wonders what she thinks of Paul’s being feted for his looks.) TMZ, which is generally a much better source of information than Piers Morgan is, notes that Paul’s “bod ain’t bad in the pic” (taken “right before Ryan got hooked on the P90X workout”) but that “Ryan has totally transformed his midsection in the past couple of years… and how he’s totally shredded with a killer 6-pack.”
How long until Paul Ryan has paparazzi outside of the D.C. political press corps? How long until he’s asked to pose for Men’s Health magazine, if not (à la Scott “America’s Sexiest Man” Brown) for Cosmo?
The Ryan-body-obsessed Washington Post posted a photo of occasional “fashion twins” Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan from behind, basically centering on their posteriors. Can you imagine the outcry from feminists if a photo was published of a female candidate’s body, taken from behind and centering on her rear end — no matter how appealing — and not showing her head? The screams of “objectifying women!” would be deafening. I trust Romney and Ryan take no such insult, and Tony Horton is taking the whole uproar all the way to the bank.
The Obama campaign team, and particularly his henchwomen Stephanie “Never Heard of Joe Soptic” Cutter and Debbie “Never Heard of Bill Burton” Wasserman Schultz, must feel that they’ve gone through the political looking glass. They now live in a dystopian nightmare in which Paul Ryan metamorphosizes, reverse-Gregor-Samsa-like, from a creature who wants to eat senior citizens into someone who might remind voters — most dangerously women and young adults — that Barack Obama is not the only “cool” or “sexy” guy in politics.
Could it really be, Cutter-Wasserman might be asking herselves, that that Paul Ryan is being changed in the eyes of voters from a heartless safety-net-shredding radical into an object of desire or — dare I say it without feeling that even I have finally gone too far? — a real person, a human we can relate to, if perhaps on the slightly extraordinary side of ordinary?
Ryan has been transformed in less than a week, with the help of the liberal media, into a potential negative for Republicans (on a Mediscare basis, though Ryan himself is certainly unafraid of the debate) into the most unlikely competition for Barack Obama in terms of personal likeability. I say unlikely not because Paul Ryan isn’t likeable; having known him for more than a decade, I can state with certainty that he is extremely likeable. But unlikely because anything close to a Republican VP candidate’s personal likeability should have been, and certainly was, the furthest thing from the minds — or at least the mouths — of those television and newspaper pundits and reporters who have so much invested in Barack Obama, both professionally and emotionally.
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