The Current Crisis

Whale Watching

Beachcombing among the fat of the land.

By 8.15.02

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Washington -- To the beach, and I leave sizzling Washington in gratifying haste, particularly now that all the politicians have departed too. When the pols are gone Washington loses its chief source of amusement and most of its sources of white collar crime, even an occasional violent criminal. By the way, did you note that the only member of Congress to oppose the expulsion of convicted felon, James Traficant, was the Hon. Gary Condit, he of the missing Chandra Levy enigma? Both men will not be returning to our nation's capital this fall. They will be missed.

But to return to my subject, I am heading for the beach. What marvels will I see there? From what I have seen in earlier peregrinations this summer, I will see many very corpulent Americanos. Frankly, fat people do not trouble me. I prefer them to the skinny, angular Americans, many of which look like terminal cases. There are myths about body types. Redheads are supposedly choleric. Tubby persons are supposedly merry. Most of us recognize that these stereotypes are often inaccurate. There are fat people who are irritable and gloomy. But have you ever met a cheerful skinny person? If they were to laugh their bones would rattle. I think we can conclude that skinny people are grim, and that the self-righteously skinny are the sworn enemies of the rotund. I side with the rotund, and will greet them genially at the beach -- assuming they are properly clothed.

After all, the rotund are about to become targets of America's health Gestapo. Not content with rendering life miserable for tobacco smokers and only slightly less miserable for oenologists and moderate drinkers, the health Gestapo's agents are opening a new theater of operations. This time they are training their blunderbusses on fast food restaurants and candy and soft drink machines. They are focusing their solicitude on those whom they say are overweight. Their assumption is that those who tip the scales a few pounds on the heavy side are overweight because of their diets. Well, perhaps, but what business is it of ours? The sophistry that the health Gestapo lays down on us is that fat people burden Medicare and Medicaid with inordinately pricey medical bills. I call this a sophistry because the overweight also have lower life expectancies. Consequently, they are less of a burden on the healthcare system than the rest of us.

Of course, the health Gestapo's main complaint is not against the fat but against the Giant Corporations that feed them. The "food industry," two Ivy League medical busybodies write in the Washington Post, "spends an estimated $10 billion to influence the eating behavior of children." So these two food snoops and their allies among the so-called consumerists are inveighing against the "food industry" and fast-food corporations in particular. A New York lawyer has just filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC, claiming his client became obese and ill because of the delicious products of these profitable corporations.

Anyone the least familiar with the products of America's food producers knows that these companies are very health conscious and responsive to America's hungry consumers. Their production lines produce caffeine-free drinks, low-fat delicacies, the sodium-free, the sugar-free -- you name it. If it is healthy and tasteless, Americans can buy it.

My guess is that fat people are fat because they want to be fat. Unlike the skinny, the fat are nicely cushioned. Whenever they sit or lie down it is probably like easing oneself into a plush sofa or chair. Some of the fat whom I shall see at the beach might actually be aesthetes familiar with the fleshy painting of Raphael and other Renaissance voluptuaries, and eager to imitate their works of art with their very own bodies.

So here is a toast to fat people, perspiring in the sunshine, guzzling whatever consumer product they desire. I look forward to seeing them at the beach, and I shall only ask that they keep their boom boxes at a moderate volume and not roll over on me.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.