Friday, November 23, 2007

Political health

Politics is not just economics and public policy and ethics and other such stuff on a high abstract plane.

Sometimes, issues facing politicians are simple and personal.  Things like whether or not to use hand sanitizer when you're shaking hands all day.

On a similar theme of political health comes this story in the New York Times on the hazards of campaign food.

The misconception is that politicians on the campaign keep trim and fit merely by "running".  Most politicians I know get grossly out of shape during campaigns and many of them gain lots of weight.  And they have no choice.  As the Times notes:

The candidates are “for all intents and purposes out of control of their diets,” said Walter Scheib, former White House chef to the Clintons and the Bushes. Many big events on the preprimary calendar — the Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa; the Clyburn Fish Fry in South Carolina; the Iowa State Fair, an everything-fry — seem as likely to produce heart attacks as votes.

Those wanting to be president must never, ever refuse or fumble the local specialties, lest they repeat the sins of John Kerry (dismissed as effete when he ordered a Philly cheese steak with Swiss in 2004) or Gerald R. Ford (on a 1976 swing through Texas, he bit into a tamale with the corn husk still on).

Downing a regional delicacy with aplomb, Mr. Scheib said, tells voters: “I’m one of you. I’m part of this area. Vote for me.”

“There are few things more personal than eating,” he said, “and if you reject someone’s food, you kind of reject them.”

This is not just an American phenomena.  In Canada too there are the regional delicacies politicians have to indulge in for the cameras.  Most every national politician I've ever I accompanied around this city schedules a stop into Ches's.  In Montreal, it's smoked meat, poutine and anything drenched in maple syrup.  I'm not sure what it would be in Ontario (although beaver tails comes to mind) but on the prairies a politician is sure to face a plate of perogies sooner or later.

I never ate so much fish and brewis before I was assigned the semi-regular duty of accompanying Clyde Wells to one Sunday church luncheon or another; haven't since either.

All foods that are high fat or high carbohydrates or high salt or high sugar or some combination thereof.

It's a wonder more politicians don't die in office.

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