The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Monday, August 01, 2005

Lighten up, Chait...

The Drudge Report has some stats up from President Bush’s last physical, which rates his health as ‘Superior’ for his age group. The report notes that the President exercises 6 days per week, including biking, treadmill and elliptical training, and free weight lifting. The results are that at a weight of 191 lbs. he has a bodyfat percentage of just under 16%, excellent blood pressure (110/64), and a very low resting heart rate (47 bpm).

This ties back to something I wanted to write about before Liam pushed the other headlines off the Deadman: an editorial in the LA Times by Jonathan Chait, an editor of the New Republic. Chait has his nose out of joint over the President’s interview with Supreme Court candidate J. Harvie Wilkinson, in which they chatted about workout regimens and the President chided Wilkinson for ignoring his doctor’s advice about cross-training, telling him he was going to damage his knees.

Chait then gets even more exercised (heh heh) by how much time the President spends working out, and his belief that more people should do the same:

Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run — carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.

For the editor of a high-brow intellectual magazine, Chait betrays a surprising amount of small-mindedness here. Everyday we find out more about how the sedentary lifestyle of average Americans is expected to impact our health and retirement systems as time goes on, to the point where some commentators and Morgan Spurlock-types are agitating to shake down the food industry to offset the costs. And Chait thinks the President’s attitude shows that he’s out of touch?

He also writes that any “…notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly.” Maybe so, but the notion of a connection between fitness (or rather, lack of) and heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and a string of other diseases is well documented. Equally silly is the notion that the hours a person spends exercising are a direct trade-off with productive work hours. I think this editorial tells us a lot more about its author than its subject.

The saddest thing about this story, though, is that what the President displays here is a concept so unheard of, so rarely seen in Washington that even a smart guy like Jon Chait doesn’t recognize it when he sees it: leadership by example.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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good post... thanks.

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