Is Christie Too Fat To Be President? Ctd

A reader writes:

In late July, Chris Christie had to be hospitalized for asthma. He took a helicopter to his son's baseball game and had the state police drive him the 100 yards to the stadium. That clip alone will be used in all kinds of ads as evidence that he's not physically fit. Running for president, much less being president, is extremely strenuous. (Look at the toll that it's taken on our hardworking and very fit current president.) Christie has only been in office a short time and a fair amount of that time has been spent out of state, and I don't think his current job tests him nearly as much as being president. I would be very concerned that his stamina is not up to the job.

Asthma is a different, if related, issue to weight. I've had it chronically my entire life. Only after my bronchial scare last February, did I fully get it back under control. Should it bar someone from the presidency? No more than obesity should. My point was not that it should but that it does, whether we like it or not. David Gibson proposes a thought experiment:

Let's imagine (yes, we're pushing all sorts of buttons here) that Chris Christie were gay. 

Would these same critics be insisting that he do everything he could to change his orientation? Or would they be highlighting the studies showing that homosexuality is in great measure about genetics? … Teasing out the moral distinctions in when and how much we are responsible for in our behavior is America's national pastime, and has been, for right and left, since the days of the Pilgrims. Conservatives tend to emphasize personal responsibility for most everything, and liberals tend to find an explanation — an excuse, some say — for most everything. Except perhaps for the weight of their political opponents?

I'm afraid I don't see sexual orientation as a health issue. HIV could be – although we have almost no examples of public officials being open about HIV infection. Countering me, Seth Masket marshalls evidence that there is no electoral penalty for overweight male politicans (but there is for women). More generally:

[T]he idea that candidates have to "look presidential" is highly problematic, giving sanction to all sorts of bigotry. It's hard to separate "looking presidential" from "looking like the presidents we've already had," which leads to some uncomfortable areas. It wasn't too long ago that a sizable chunk of Americans wouldn't have found an African American "presidential" looking. No doubt many feel that way about women today. And Jews. And short people. And people with disabilities. Would that ultimately affect many people's votes? My guess is that it would be hard to find a measurable "presidential-looking" effect that moves votes beyond the major influences we can detect (economic growth/recession, war/peace, extremism/moderation). But maybe there is such an effect. Should we cater to it?

I have to say I'm struck by the data presented by John Sides. I couldn't care less about how fat a politician is – but I do care that a politician is as candid and straightforward as Christie is in the video above. But maybe I have mistakenly misjudged my fellows. One more reader:

As someone who works in advertising and spent 10 years in LA making commercials, I believe the Christie weight issue is a prime example of Washington insider "group think."  They are judging him by what they have seen in person which the vast majority of Americans will never do.  The vast majority of people will only see Christie on TV or YouTube and while he looks big, he carries it well.  In fact, when you combine his size and his attitude, he comes off as a tough talking John Goodman, in my opinion.  The type of guy that was an interior lineman on the high school football team and got bigger as he aged.   America is filled with these types of guys.  

More importantly, what are the people who see him in person going to say?  One in four of them are going to be obese, as will anyone that they would be talking with.   The furthest it will ever go outside the Beltway is, "He sure is a big boy."