The Corner

The Corn-Dog Gap

Today we learned that John Edwards is “an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where ‘fat rednecks try to shove food down my face.’” With unemployment rising and many Americans turning to the ice-cream tub for a scoop of comfort, you’d think the president might decide to axe any waistline finger-wagging from tonight’s State of the Union address. Or not. Politico gives us the skinny:

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett will join first lady Michelle Obama in her box at the State of the Union address on Wednesday. Last week at the US Conference of Mayors, Obama praised the Republican for a website he launched — thiscityisgoingonadiet.com — where people can learn how to lose weight and track their weight loss.

“That’s what Mayor Cornett did, when he started talking about the problem of obesity and lost 40 pounds himself to get down to his target weight,” she said. “And the people of his city took notice. When he goes to restaurants now, everyone watches what he orders. And a reporter quoted one of his constituents saying, ‘When the mayor pushes you to lose weight, that says something.’”

That’s a nice little story, sure, but let’s hope the president avoids any inclination to become America’s Jenny Craig. It would be annoying nanny-statism, of course, but it also wouldn’t be good politics. As The Economist points out, 68 percent of Americans are either obese or overweight:

Telling people to eat more healthily is like telling them not to have risky sex. Americans are suspicious of the nanny state at the best of times, let alone when it nags them to curb their most basic instincts . . .  A recent proposal to tax sugary drinks, for example, went nowhere . . . even if good food were freely available, losing weight is hard. Every year, 25% of American men and 43% of American women attempt it.

If Obama does chat fat, I doubt it’ll go over well. As Maureen Dowd recalls, this is the man who “had to force himself to nibble French fries and drink beer (instead of his organic Black Forest Berry Honest Tea) during the Pennsylvania primary.”

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