Return of the Fat Man

Yes, Chris Cristie is having bad days -- some call him the "fat Nixon." But the reason for the news frenzy is that he's a Presidential hopeful. And when was the last time we had a fat man aspire to the nation's top office, never mind a fat President? In earlier times, POTUS was not lean, could even be huge. Those were the days when heft was the equivalent of affluence and thinness of poverty. Let Us Now Praise (Skinny from Deprivation) Men (and Women). You could be too thin. Now it's the opposite. The poor are morbidly obese and some years ago it was pointed out that none of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies was even silightly overweight. But though Christie's girth is the butt of late-night jokesters, what matters most is his conduct in this scandal.

Bill Clinton was not as fat as Christie, but he was pudgy because he was, well, a glutton. For food, for women, and in the end, for punishment. He's lean now -- some say he was always mean. And it began at the time of his public address during the Lewinsky affair -- a full-service word in this case. I saw his gaunt image on TV and thought, damn, he never looked so good. Today he looks that way again because he has finally learned to curb his appetites, at least the food one, I have no idea about his personal life.

Christie, however, is a bonafide fat man. And he was, and may still be if he manages to put this behind him, an aspirant to the Presidency. Who else is fat and up there?

Actors tend to be really lean, what with the famous pounds the camera puts on. Except for the world of rap, with esthetics of its own, practically all celebrities are thin. Sure, there are comic fat men, a tradition harking back to, the even more fatally scandalous, Fatty Arbuckle.  But, wait, how about John Goodman. Sure, he's big. But it's no joke. He's risible in The Big Lebowski but not because he's fat; it's because the character he plays is an idiot. Most of the time, he commands respect and his size helps. In short, he is not at all like that other, tragic, John: Candy.

But the fat man of our times is Wendell Pierce. I mean, is there a cooler dude on TV? In The Wire, he called himself "a fat man with a big dick." And in Treme, though I've heard no such phallic boast, his only trouble with the ladies is avoiding temptation, or at least avoiding his woman finding out  -- he jokes that a New Orleans musician's girlfriend wonders why she has to have penicilln shots for his kidney infection. And it's not just his characters. Pierce is reputed to be a party animal. He radiates authority, street smarts, man-about-town savoir fare and boyish charm. He's a star, an idol. And he's fat.

So maybe it's not healthy to carry that much weight. But some men are doing it with flair. I wish them a long life and, if they need to follow it, a good weight-loss diet. In the meantime, swag on!