“Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights. Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.” — William Shakespeare, Julius Caeser, Act 1, Scene 2
A friend of mine pointed me to an article in the Christian Science Monitor in which Mario Rizzo defends Sarah Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama for having spoken out on childhood obesity. It made me realize how much commentary I’ve seen on this seemingly trivial issue in the last few weeks.
Some Republicans have come out in disagreeing with Palin, saying that Obama is simply speaking her mind about a societally important issue. Many of these seem delighted to have an opportunity to knock Palin down a peg or two going into the 2012 presidential election season, but surely that’s merely a coincidence. Others are agreeing with Palin, basically saying that as First Lady, Obama is close enough to being a government official that her campaign is an unwelcome social engineering effort on the part of the federal government.
Initially, I saw all this as a good barometer of hysteria. I find that those who’ve said Palin’s gone overboard with this are on the right side of the hysteria threshold. I mean, at this point the technical term for the size of the average American kid is “ginormous”. So what if Obama’s a quasi-politician, the message in this particular case is correct, right? But then I realized that if you’re really in favor of tackling obesity in government that focusing on what Sarah Palin is saying is pretty stupid, because it’s a lost opportunity to respond more directly to Obama’s approach to the issue.
What I mean is that if Michelle Obama really believes that childhood obesity is an important problem, then why doesn’t she come out in public opposition to government policies that encourage it? For example, shouldn’t she hold a press conference to trumpet her support for an end to government subsidies for sugar, corn, meat, and dairy?
But of course she isn’t going to do that. And the meanstream media isn’t going to call her on it. Agribusiness is big business, after all, and nothing, not even the health of America’s children, can be allowed to interfere with the ménage à trois of government, corporations, and the media. That’s why these sorts of subsidies weren’t even mentioned during the debates on the cost of healthcare last year, and they won’t be mentioned this year even as the federal debt continues to expand like, well, like an American waistline.