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Is Al Gore "Too Fat"?

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro asks if Al Gore is too fat to be President.

Many people have noticed that the former vice president has grown rather beefy. He’s become a bigger man, perhaps in more ways than one.

I’ve also heard from more than one person that Gore’s added heft would make him a less attractive presidential candidate should he decide to run. The theory is that Gore would lose votes because his size is a turn-off--some sort of symbolic sign of decadence, complacency, bad diet, whatever.

Caro isn't convinced and thus has opened a poll and kept his blog comments open to ask the question. The comments as of this writing are mixed but mostly fat-neutral. An oddball comment comes from an uncreative anonymous person, comparing Gore to American Idol winner Ruben Studdard.

Gore's chub is not as extreme as Ruben's morbid obesity.

I found this interesting not because of its trollish nature (a gimme) but because here's someone setting the line of "too fat" once again. Gore is just "chubby" ("acceptably" fat) and Studdard is too fat. I wonder if that commenter also has an internal Too-Fat-O-Meter™, pointing out when people cross the invisible "too fat" line.

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amanda8501 March 1st, 2007 | Link | Al Gore looks like any guy
Al Gore looks like any guy his age should, this is like comparing Tom Hanks in Forest Gump, to Tom Hanks now. What this comes down to more is that the American public is more willing to trust a 'beautiful' president than one that is deemed 'ugly' or fat. Its idiotic and stupid, but I don't feel that many people take the effort into looking into a candidate before deciding which one they like more.
BabySeal March 1st, 2007 | Link | I know I should mind the
I know I should mind the situation in my own country, but gee... how about considering a candidate's ideal and his/her program for the nation instead of his/her looks and weight? Why should the latter be relevant? It's weird that people look at those and consider on that basis if someone is a good candidate or not.
TheRealKay March 1st, 2007 | Link | I'm not at all convinced
I'm not at all convinced that Gore's weight would have any effect on his chances should he run again. I do think that Americans, unfortunately, care about the physical appearence of politicians but they aren't trying to elect Brad Pitt. Al Gore, in my opinion, still fits into the socially acceptable category when it comes to weight and appearance. That being said, I do think that there is a "too fat" line for many people, and a "too ugly" line, although it of course differs from one person to the next. I think there are many people whose weight alone would be enough to keep them from the presidency.
GirlyGirl March 1st, 2007 | Link | The reality is that if Gore
The reality is that if Gore did decide to run for president, his advisers would have him on a treadmill immediately. I do wish he would run, I like him so much better now that we're able to see his personality.
kimdog March 1st, 2007 | Link | I'm an Al Gore fan, and was
I'm an Al Gore fan, and was pleased to see this article in Rolling Stone about how Gore could run and win. I quickly glanced over the article again, and there is no analysis of his weight. I don't even think they mention it once. They talk about him being cool, and a superstar... but not fat.
fatthought March 1st, 2007 | Link | This may be getting into
This may be getting into more turbulent waters, but considering how a certain "thinner" president has performed, I think people would be favorably inclined toward Al Gore even if he were twice as fat. I also think that his present appearance is basically a non-issue, and that certain publications/media would like to hype it into an issue.
Joycelyn March 1st, 2007 | Link | Al Gore is such a good man,
Al Gore is such a good man, I would hope that people would vote for or against him on the basis of his ideas and record rather than his fat. However, since he has already been pounced on, based on false premises, on the basis of his utility bill, one can suspect that there would be at least a whisper campaign about it.
kimdog March 1st, 2007 | Link | Is is me? Or do Chicago
Is is me? Or do Chicago publications really seem to have a higher rate of fat hat in permeating their pages?
Violet March 2nd, 2007 | Link | I've heard three separate
I've heard three separate political commentators say, with the same clever laugh, that if Al Gore starts dropping weight then you know he's gonna run. I think it must be part of someone's talking points or something...
2DayIs4Me March 2nd, 2007 | Link | If you are referring to
If you are referring to President Bush as the "thinner" president, he doesn't pass muster either. His BMI is 26 putting him in the "overweight" category - y'know, one of those legions of Americans who are "overweight or obese" and destroying this nation? He's one of them/us.
Meowzer March 2nd, 2007 | Link | When I saw An Inconvenient
When I saw An Inconvenient Truth, it struck me just how much more comfortable Gore seemed in his larger body than he did back in the days he was dieting on the campaign trail. I think a big part of the reason for Gore's resurgence in popularity is that he is being himself -- the message he's putting out there is, "This is who I am, this is what matters to me, take it or leave it -- I'm not going to tie myself in knots anymore trying to be liked." And yeah, that includes not dieting any more. A dieting Gore is an uptight Gore, and an uptight Gore is a perennial bridesmaid. So people can say what they want to, but this version of Al Gore is the most electable one I've ever seen.
richie79 March 2nd, 2007 | Link | I suspect that even if Al
I suspect that even if Al Gore were a little bigger (I don't consider him 'fat' now, BTW, although media standards are much stricter on these things) I doubt that the media treatment of him would be as vicious as that meted out against John Edwards in 2004. Edwards, you may remember, wasn't fat himself, but his wife was defintely on the large side. Also compare with Bill Clinton, a very successful President who although 'chunky' (if not fat) through most of his eight years, again has a slim wife. This to me serves to demonstrate an inherent public and media bias toward men in politics as well as tolerance of fat more generally, and the deeply sexist assumptions about how a prospective First Lady is expected to look. Men in public life seem to be coming under increased pressure to be slim and toned but there remains a long way to go before it's as intense as that faced by women. Back on topic, I think Al is in with a good shot, and I'd love to see him elected in 2008, far more so than I would Hillary, who has made her extreme position on the 'childhood obesity epidemic' very clear indeed. Any society that focuses on shallow criteria such as external appearance and 'charisma' as election criteria gets the leadership it deserves, IMHO.
madge March 2nd, 2007 | Link | I agree with you Richie; i'd
I agree with you Richie; i'd much rather see Al on the dem. ticket than Hillary, who, (i'd also have to agree with David Geffen, IS polarizing for any number of reasons - the childhood obesity nonsense being just one. Back on topic, I find it an outrage that Al Gore's weight would be construed as a symbol of decadence and overconsumption! Of all people, Gore is the most socially conscious and UNDER-consuming consumer. To even suggest that his weight is a symbol of his overindulgence is misinformed and ignorant. I could see if the article wanted to point out that period when he was wearing that beard (it did look a bit creepy and una-bomber-ish IMO), but he's long since lost that anyway. His weight? I didn't even know he was anything other than a normal weight. So he's not a marathon runner... thank god. Because that takes a lot of time, and Al has other hobbies and causes that he'd rather champion; causes that may likely buy humanity a bit more time and steer us off this doomed course we're currently on. It seems in politics if the muckrackers cannot shake your goals, ideals, and beliefs, then they'll prey on your looks, weight, spouse, children, etc. Remember how Chelsea Clinton was laughed at because she was considered "ugly"? And John Edward's wife attacked for her weight (as already mentioned above)? Even Kerry's wife wasn't safe; she's slim and attractive, but since she's of Heinz descent, she was considered a "rich bitch". It never ends.
Marshfield March 2nd, 2007 | Link | >>Even Kerry's wife wasn't
>>Even Kerry's wife wasn't safe; she's slim and attractive, but since she's of Heinz descent, she was considered a "rich bitch".
Euterpist March 2nd, 2007 | Link | I have heard several people
I have heard several people who interviewed for jobs with the Bush administration say that W asks about exercise routines during interviews. He told one that he would never hire someone who doesn't work out daily and gave one of his staff grief for working out "only" an hour a day. I'd much rather have the president that we actually elected in 2000 in the White House. Teddy Roosevelt wouldn't stand a chance of being elected today.
xenafu March 3rd, 2007 | Link | Neither would Taft or
Neither would Taft or Cleveland.
Cathy March 3rd, 2007 | Link | Ugh. Reading from Salon this
Ugh. Reading from Salon this morning: At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Ann Coulter said during her speech, " Did Al Gore actually swallow Michael Moore?" Of course, that was just one of numerous incendiary comments she made, including referring to John Edwards as a "fa----" and Bill Clinton as the first black president ("half white, half trash").
chondros March 3rd, 2007 | Link | I dislike pointing out the
I dislike pointing out the following, but I feel someone should. (1) Commentators are discussing Al Gore's weight because of the pervasive cultural prejudice against fat people, not because of diabolical activity on the part of Gore's political enemies. Whether or not Gore is "too fat" will be a real concern for Democratic primary voters and for his campaign staff if he decides to seek the nomination. In a general election, a candidate's weight is the sort of thing that will matter to the all-important swing voters. It makes me sick, but it's true. (2) Attacks on fat people, and nasty political attacks in general, are not limited to the political right. Nor do I see any reason why the fat acceptance movement should ally itself with the political left unless the left openly endorses FA -- in fact, precommitment of FA advocates to one political party or ideology would basically eliminate the possibility of FA as a political force. We all have political views, but I think it's a mistake for us to ventilate them here when they don't relate directly to fat acceptance. It's not that hard to decry the nonsense about Gore's weight without straying into the expression of other political opinions.
Meowzer March 3rd, 2007 | Link | Well, let's face it, pretty
Well, let's face it, pretty much every major candidate who has announced so far has at least one voter "handicap." (That is, something that a small but possibly crucial number of voters have identified as a turnoff.) McCain - age; Giuliani - multiple marriages and never held a political office higher than mayor; Romney - minority religion, plus now has Ann Coulter hung around his neck like a week-old porkchop (or should in short order); Obama - nonwhite, relatively inexperienced, and cigarette smoker; Hillary - Hillaryness; Richardson - neverheardofhimness (OK, *I* have, but most people haven't); Edwards - notcurrentlyinpublicofficeness (plus still wiping crap off his forehead over the Blogger Issue); Vilsack - see Richardson; Dennis Kucinich - will always have gadfly reputation. However, barring a late announcement by Someone We Haven't Thought Of (George Clooney, perhaps?), one of these people will probably be the next leader of the free world (snort). I don't see how Gore, if he throws his hat in the ring, will be any more "disadvantaged" than anyone else in the race even if he's not SuperBuff GymgoingGuy.
lildee March 6th, 2007 | Link | I've also heard that
I've also heard that Kucinich (who I would love to elect) would never be pres because he is "too short"! Yikes, what does all this say about us as a nation, a people in general. How superficial can you get?
nwhiker March 6th, 2007 | Link | We elected the guy we'd
We elected the guy we'd "rather have a beer with", even when we knew he was an incomp: "He'll have good people helping him.". So... very superficial.
Meowzer March 6th, 2007 | Link | I love what Jon Stewart said
I love what Jon Stewart said about that. Admittedly this is paraphrasing, but it went something like: "I don't want the President to be the guy I have a beer with. I want him to be the guy who stays sober and drives me home afterwards."
nwhiker March 6th, 2007 | Link | Even if he spends the time
Even if he spends the time at the bar eating buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing?
rachelr March 7th, 2007 | Link | I think its par for the
I think its par for the political course that if you can't find fault with the message, find fault with the messenger.
LLW March 7th, 2007 | Link | Correction: al gore WAS
Correction: al gore WAS elected once, so the question is could he be elected AGAIN but as a fatter man. Fat wouldn't have helped him get more justice at the Court, either, I fear. Looks are crucial in u.s. politics, since TV made Nixon's nose lose to JFK's remarkable beauty and youth. IMO, the same sort of TV-watcher who votes on smear ads, network "news" and unconsciously on looks will usually think fat is ugly, even if s/he is fat too. The beauty factor is what gives Barack Obama a shot at the nomination--a fat black man would have no chance. If Gore wants the nomination, I suspect he'll diet on the way, and more people will know about the details of that than about his views on the climate or responding to China's economic growth, fersure. In fact, I predict people will vote for him on the basis of what diet he chooses If he goes low fat/low cal, the low carbers will vote against; and we'll get the president we deserve.
Wanderer's picture
September 28th, 2007 | Link | Unfortunately, we got the

Unfortunately, we got the President we deserve last time; look what it got us. (I'm sorry. As much as I appreciate the obvious problems with the voting, they finally finished the recount. It wouldn't have helped. Bush honestly got more votes.)

(Whether he got more votes honestly is another matter. Did you know many Bush voters thought Kerry was pro-abortion?)

Anyway, what do I know? I voted for Kerry.

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