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A round person in the oval office?

I have a lot of reasons to keep the weight off, but thankfully “So I can become president” is not one of them. According to Slate, however, Mike Huckabee should add it to his list. The former governor of Arkansas lost 110 pounds several years ago after living out a fat person’s nightmare: he broke a chair in front of 50 cabinet members. (Thankfully I never broke any furniture when I was fat, but I did break a bed once. It wasn’t entirely my fault though since other people were involved. Once you drag your mind out of the gutter you will be disappointed to learn it was not at an orgy, but at a sleepover in middle school and there was no lesbian experimentation involved.) Huckabee wrote a book called Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle which helped launch him into the national spotlight. That’s why Slate thinks his weight is important as he campaigns for the Republican nomination for president.

For Huckabee, getting thin did so much to get him into the game that keeping the weight off could become an unconscious test of whether he’s really who he says he is…If Huckabee starts to balloon, he’s no longer a fresh face; he’s another flip-flopping phony diet doctor.

I can see their point, but the article is flimsy in other parts. The first paragraph ponders whether we want a president “whose biggest fear is getting fat?” How do we know what Huckabee’s greatest fear is? Considering how conservative he is, his biggest fear probably involves being best man at a big, gay, marriage ceremony. The article also says “the worst diet plan in the world is to have everyone watching,” which I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with. Knowing I have to weigh-in here every week has kept me more focused on my goal than I otherwise would have been. And knowing a certain event is happening in May (which I’m not going to mention because I’ve talked about it far, far too much already) has also kept me working hard to maintain my weight, if not lose more. Sure, it adds pressure, but a credible threat of humiliation can be a good thing if channeled properly. And if I did become fat again, I would still have friends and family who love me no matter what, which is far more important than what the public thinks.

I hope Huckabee keeps the weight off for his own sake and not because of the electorate. Campaigning for president sounds like the world’s longest, most stressful job interview. Nothing makes me eat like stress. It’s also got to be tough to eat healthy when you’re constantly traveling around the nation, never knowing where or when you’re having your next meal. I hope Huckabee remains a loser, and I really mean that.

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Debbi • December 5, 2007 at 9:03 am

I’ve heard and read that if Al Gore suddenly starts slimming down we can count on him to jump into the race. Haven’t seen any pics of him lately … hmmm.


SB • December 5, 2007 at 9:04 am

Far more problematic for me would be the unsympathetic attitude that people who are successful at difficult tasks often have for people who are not as successful as they or who don’t share their values. Like the current president of France, who is himself the child of immigrants, is very hostile toward immigrants to France with the justification that he managed it, so why are they making such a fuss. I.e., if Huckabee’s attitude is going to be “I lost weight, so everyone else has to” and he makes that a national policy, I find that really troubling and frankly dangerous given the lack of knowledge that we have about how weight loss really works.

But that wouldn’t be my main reason for not voting for him. I don’t care if he loses or gains weight, but I hope he loses the primary and drops out of the race: for political reasons.


Melanie • December 5, 2007 at 9:33 am

I don’t know much about Huckabee or his platform, but I sure hope he wouldn’t want to put the country on a diet based on his own ability to lose weight. The government spends far too much time telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies as it is.


Mia • December 5, 2007 at 11:10 am

Sadly, I’m guessing you’re right about this:

“How do we know what Huckabee’s greatest fear is? Considering how conservative he is, his biggest fear probably involves being best man at a big, gay, marriage ceremony.”


melsky • December 5, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I always figure the louder someone screeches about “God, Marriage and Family” the more likely it is they have some really embarrassing hidden sex life.

As for Huckabee, in addition to the usual extreme right wing stuff, he strikes me as an I Lost Weight And Everyone Needs To type zealot.


Lora • December 5, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Forget Chuckabee, PQ. :) Think Nancy Makin. Now thats inspirational!



April • December 5, 2007 at 12:29 pm

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not fan of Mike Huckabee. As a citizen of the state of Arkansas, I can confidently say I would never vote for him. With regard to the article you reference, I’ve noticed he has already put some weight back on. He got very thin after losing the 110 pounds. I’d see him running on the trails in Little Rock, and he looked “gaunt” in the face, sickly. I think he actually looks better with a little more weight, and I hope that that is why he has gained a little. However, if he has gained through the stress of running for president or for the myraid of reasons we all gain weight, I hope that experience teaches him not to have any “high horse” expectations for the rest of us. Losing weight and maintaining that loss is a personal choice and no one should ever be guilted into doing so.


Migraineur • December 5, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Musta been a slow news day at Slate. Barack Obama smokes. Who gives a fig?

Pasta Queen for president!


chanda • December 5, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Can you imagine the media feeding frenzy (no pun intended) if Hillary gained weight during her run for the presidency? Im sure it’s challenging enough to be the first and only woman running without having to worry about the flab phobic media.


Cindy • December 5, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Hi PQ,

As usual, you’ve given us something to think about, along with a good chuckle or two. Remember, though, that one person’s easy is another’s hard. You thrive on the pressure of people watching and knowing what you are up to… I, on the other hand, kept my weight loss journey a secret for as long as I possibly could (until it was so obvious that I couldn’t deny it). I HATE talking about it with most people. I hate thinking that someone is noticing every loss or gain or “maintenance.” To me, this is mostly a private battle. Having a nation watching would be just too much to handle, I fear. We are all different in countless ways. That’s what makes things interesting, I guess…


LME • December 5, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Has anyone else seen or read that he had weight loss surgery? I’ve seen it mentioned here and there around the Internets, but nothing substantiated. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, unless you’ve gone and written a book entitled “Quit Digging Your Grave with Your Knife and Fork” full of tips and how-to’s.


kyle • December 5, 2007 at 6:04 pm

This was one of the funniest things you’ve ever written. I laughed aloud at like 5 parts and internally chuckled at the rest :)

I too have broken a bed. And it was post-weight loss even so I was only topping the scales at 130…I was in Costa Rica staying at a hostel and I sat down on the bed and it went crashing to the floor. The hostel owner came running and started freaking out. The look on her face said it all, “Damn fat Americans!” If only she could’ve seen me pre-weight loss…


anon • December 5, 2007 at 9:23 pm

I just have to reply to this comment:

“Far more problematic for me would be the unsympathetic attitude that people who are successful at difficult tasks often have for people who are not as successful as they or who don’t share their values. Like the current president of France, who is himself the child of immigrants, is very hostile toward immigrants to France with the justification that he managed it, so why are they making such a fuss.”

I just have to say that I’m not a huge fan of Sarkozy and I was def. more of a Selegone Royal fan, but in fact he IS one of the FEW people in France that support affirmative action and he is one of the FIRST presidents to place three people of color into ministral roles. Like I said, I am not a Sarkozy fan, but he is not necessarily unsympathic to the problems of minorities and immigrants in France.


Erin • December 5, 2007 at 10:33 pm

If it’s any consolation, I’ve broken a bed twice (granted, it’s an already broken bed), and the first time involved playing Scene It with my brother, and during the second I was alone. So very, very, lamely alone.

I absolutely cannot imagine having an entire nation watch my body change like that, and assuming human nature is working like it ought to, at least half of those people will want him to fail and gain the weight. I’m not sure how I feel about Huckabee politically, but everything I’ve read about him makes me like him as a person very, very much. He did it the hard way, and he didn’t make excuses, and I think it’s wonderful he’s still making sure Arkansas has a role model for getting themselves back in shape.


JEM • December 5, 2007 at 10:37 pm

I broke a swing once…completely horrific!

I hate politics.


jen • December 6, 2007 at 12:57 am

Cindy! Thank God you said that! I feel the exact same way. To me, weight loss is an intensely private thing. The more public it becomes, the worse I do at dieting. All these diet books say to make your intentions known to friends and family. I just can’t do that. I guess it’s more to prove I can do it to myself than anyone else.


SB • December 6, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Maybe we read different news sources, but in the ones I read Sarkozy is also the guy who says “let them burn” in response to violence in the suburbs. He has one notion of acceptable behavior for immigrants and is definitely a “pull up the ladder behind himself” kind of guy.


Sally Parrott Ashbrook • December 6, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Slate has really interesting articles sometimes, but they also run a lot of crap.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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