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Politicians behaving [badly / nicely]

October 7, 2009

First, the bad news. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has leveled the most damning criticism of all against his opponent Christopher Christie: FAT.

It is about as subtle as a playground taunt: a television ad for Gov. Jon S. Corzine shows his challenger, Christopher J. Christie, stepping out of an S.U.V. in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once.

In case viewers missed the point, a narrator snidely intones that Mr. Christie “threw his weight around” to avoid getting traffic tickets.

According to the article, a recent poll found that the top descriptor New Jersey voters attributed to Christie was “fat.” Corzine is pulling the classic, “Uh oh, sounds like somebody’s a little sensitive!” and running 5 and 10Ks with Cory Booker. Christie feels he has “struggled” with his weight his entire life, losing and regaining large amounts of weight on a few different occasions, and the article states that he does not discuss his weight in public, joking or not.

It’s not exactly a novel criticism to bemoan ad hominem attacks like this in politics, and in my experience, that criticism is a futile one. Still, it’s really disheartening that the people we elect to keep our country going resort to this kind of offensive, hurtful rhetoric. Maybe even more disheartening that they can continue to do it because the electorate buys in.

UPDATE: I bloggerfailed and posted without having seen the ad, which you can view here. To me, it’s much subtler than the NYT piece made it out to be, but we get an image of a scowling Christie (double-chinned, natch) right alongside “threw his weight around,” which to me is meaningful juxtaposition.

BUT. There is good news! Al Franken, the newest Senator from my homeland of Minnesota, introduced a bill that would withhold contracts from companies “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” Naturally, this legislation is opposed by the Department of Defense, and by male Republicans (and only male Republicans) in the Senate.

Though Senator Franken hasn’t always been at the top of my (or Carleton’s) BFF list, I’m proud of what he’s standing for with this legislation.

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