In Shape Isn’t Obsessed
No disrespect, but Frank Rich is incorrect in characterizing President-elect Obama’s commitment to fitness as obsession, which is to “to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally.” 90 minutes a day for exercise is perfectly acceptable for any balanced human, even the President, and for some of us it’s absolutely critical for any mental health.
I wrote Hail to the Jock a long, long time ago, and my criticism of Bush at the time was that all available indicators yelled real obsession, a loss of weight and described routine that could only come about from at least 120 minutes of workout a day, very likely much more. The Washington Post flat-out lied again this morning, Bush was always riding his bike on workdays after dawn workouts, weekends only my ass. Remember that time there was some huge false security alarm, the missiles came out on the armored Dickmobile (seriously) in the furious scramble, and Bush was ignored the whole time? He was riding his bike somewhere in Maryland.
But 90 minutes a day is fine, and the empirical record is right there, it is flat-out impossible for Obama to have won the election and yet be obsessed with his fitness. Indeed the variable can be flipped, one of the reasons Obama won is because he’s fit. Unlike the worst of all time, Americans can fully trust Obama won’t be biking in the middle of the afternoon as President, and should be happy Obama shows such good commitment to his health, we’re all going to need it.
I do think for those who are not in shape the serious dedication for what outwardly appears as a lot of sweat for an extremely busy person seems at least excessive, that’s where that sneering from the pear-shaped reporter in the WaPo story comes from. I’m on 5-6 days a week of workout currently myself, alternating between 20 mile rides and lifting at the gym, and it’s remarkable how extremely difficult it can be to chisel in the time and effort to get it done.
That effort and time could have easily been spent on other very productive ends, and one always wonders at the narcissism and ego elements of the whole thing, so much time and sweat spent for the glorification of body and self, eyes flicking at the mirrors continually in the weight room.
Yet the MD’s insist that it’s very important, and if sculpted pecs and a washboard stomach are the results from dedication to self in a cultured truly obsessed with image, is that such a bad thing? With all the stuff I’ve pulled in this life I’m not going to worry about that shortcoming, if it is one, lemme tell you that.
So no, Obama is not obsessed with his body, and although yes, he and Bush are similar in their dedication to fitness there the resemblance totally ends, Obama is a constitutional law professor who will be at his desk in the afternoons, not failing in his duty in the out and beyond of Maryland.