Homo homini rodentius est

Presidential Body Mass Index: McCain Wins!

Presidential Body Mass Index (PBMI)
[Click to view] McCain and Obama compared to presidents by Body Mass Index

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal caused a little ripple in the Force by publishing a tongue-in-cheek (maybe) piece entitled, “Too Fit to Be President?” by somebody named Amy Chozick. The story explored the idea that, in a nation of fatties, Obama could be rejected because he’s too thin and an elephantine electorate would not be able to bear four years of being shown up every time his svelte image appeared (fully concealed) behind the presidential podium. Dutifully, the piece was picked up by FoxNews. I kinda’ liked the WSJ piece because, well, I wrote it. Back in October, when I posted a [nearly identical] piece expanding brilliantly on the dim prospects of an Al Gore run due to his uncomfortable resemblance to a small natural satellite. The WSJ even included a cute graph in their piece comparing the presidents by height and weight, but graciously avoided using a body mass index (hey, they’re not thieves, okay?) I was going to send a snarky email to the writer, but she’s already being [raked over the coals] so I guess I’ll let it go.

But getting back to the Presidential Body Mass Index (PBMI) — just what does it have to say about the prospects of the current candidates? Well, the first thing it shows us is that some of the presumptions about the candidates are dead on: John McCain really is a clone of George W. Bush (when it comes to body mass, anyway) — his BMI of 25.8 matches exactly that of the current occupant of the White House. Mere coincidence? Sorry, Bub, this is science. And, guess what? Obama really is the new John Kennedy — his BMI of 22.8 almost exactly matches that of JFK (22.6)! Camelot redux!

However, lest any Obama supporters out there start cracking open their Vitamin Water bottles in premature celebration, there are a few things to keep in mind: 1) McCain’s BMI falls exactly on the mean — he is far more representative of what the country seeks in a president and 2) John Kennedy was an anomaly — a PBMI outlier who only got to be president because his father stole the 1960 election by stuffing the pockets of Chicago ward bosses. As I argued so convincingly in the Al Gore analysis, Americans tend to like slightly portly “successful looking” men to be president. Bean poles may win their party’s nomination — but rarely take the big prize. If Obama truly wants to be the next president, he might take a page from his fellow countrymen and start sucking down the burgers and milkshakes.

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