Academics and pundits love to analyze the nation’s presidents based on all sorts of personal data—their age on taking office, the state from which they hail, their pre-political careers, and, lately, their height and the quality of their hair. Gene Healy, in his latest Washington Examiner column, bemoans that celebrity culture has reached the presidency. “We’re not casting a chick flick here — we’re picking a constitutional chief executive,” he points out. Healy offers his own (some might say superficial) criterion for a good commander-in-chief: he’d like nothing more than a… fat president. Skinny guys are grasping and ambitious; they’re anxious to exercise their power (pun intended). Fat men, on the other hand, can stand firm and unmoving against entreaties for government to do more.
I once joked that my favorite president was a chunky, draft-dodging, scandal-plagued Democrat elected in ’92 … (wait for it) … Grover Cleveland. (The Big-Mac-gobbling Bill Clinton was pretty flabby himself, and lately he looks ever better compared to his successors.)
Like a giant, implacable Buddha, the Great Cleveland set his bulk against Big Government, wielding the veto pen more than any president before. Even $10,000 to relieve Texas farmers during the 1887 drought was too profligate: “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution.”
The opponent of Chris Christie, one of the country’s most promising politicians, made fun of the New Jersey guy’s girth in the governor’s race, but no one’s laughing now.
Most importantly, Healy has the Bard to back him up.
“Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much. Such men are dangerous,” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar comments to Marc Antony. “Let me have men about me that are fat … such as sleep o’ nights.”