My grandfather never ate a leafy green vegetable in his life. The only exercise he ever got was buffing and waxing the hallways at the local high school where he worked for thirty years. He never even heard of light beer. Nobody did.
Yet despite 40 years of diets and exercise his progeny are heavier than ever. The British medical journal the Lancet, estimates that, based on current trends in diet, nutrition, and exercise, half of Americans will be obese by 2030.
We're not just talking overweight here. We're talking about 200 million Americans zooming around in those motorized shopping carts, causing eight-cart pile-ups in the frozen foods section. We're looking at an entire nation's infrastructure that will have to be rebuilt and reinforced because half the population can't make it up a flight of stairs -- or will cause a cave-in if they try.
Conservatives dislike talk about the so-called obesity epidemic (especially from dentally challenged Brits at the Lancet). In general, we do not think there is anything wrong with our astounding national girth. In fact, we loudly proclaim our right to be as rotund as we like, which is sort of like being proud of one's athlete's foot.
Many conservatives object solely on the grounds that Michelle Obama has taken up childhood obesity as her pet project. They regard Mrs. Obama's campaign as yet another encroachment of the dread Nanny State. I can see their point. I have a mother. I don't need the First Lady telling me to eat my organic, locally grown Brussels sprouts. Nor do we want Obama's goons forcibly herding us off to a fat camp for enjoying one too many chili cheesedogs.
For many of us, life is not all that exciting. So what if we cut our life span by 30 years in order to eat deep-dish pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It's our funeral. And speaking of funerals, we are going to need twice the number of pallbearers to carry our coffins.
Naturally, conservatives would reject any initiative the First Lady undertook. If Mrs. Obama adopted Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No to Drugs" campaign, we'd immediately fire up a crack pipe. If she took on Laura Bush's literacy initiative, we'd burn down our libraries, up to and including our Ann Coulter books, and force our kids to watch more television. On the other hand, it's unlikely Mrs. Obama would take on those initiatives since they lack adequate opportunity for social engineering. After all, the government has already stuck its big nose into drugs and education, so telling us what we can and can't eat opens whole new avenues of federal involvement. Control the food pyramid and you control the world.
I suspect the real reason Mrs. Obama has started this anti-obesity crusade is that big people tend to vote for small government candidates. It's no secret that the red states are by far the heaviest. Mrs. Tolerance and Diversity, however, doesn't seem to have any tolerance left over for obese folks. She would like nothing more than to purge the U.S. of all the fatties, until there is no one left but granola crunchers and militant vegans.
SOME TIME AGO a svelte Sarah Palin made headlines when she reminded the First Lady that moms were quite capable of feeding their kids without her help. She then went out and ate fried butter on a stick at the Iowa state fair. Other Republicans could pick up on this high-caloric strategy to score big-time political points. GOP candidates should hit the campaign trail (sans the trail mix) and gorge themselves on fried chicken and cheesy mashed potatoes. Next time a candidate stops by a New Hampshire diner, forget the black coffee, no cream. Order a couple of slingers and a milk shake. I'm talking to you, Slim Romney. It's too bad big-boned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opted out of the race. Now there's a man Americans can relate too. Certainly Rick Perry could stand to put on another twenty pounds. Michele Bachmann has plenty of room in her trunk for a second helping. Ron Paul? Somebody give that man a sandwich.
Come November 2012, the choice will be clear: a new administration that knows how to enjoy a box of Krispy Kreme donuts like us plain heavy-set folks, or four more years of some gaunt ascetic demanding we give peas a chance.