I’ve gone on record many times as not the greatest fan of Donald Trump. I’ve been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as president, while at the same time being willing to call balls and strikes on him and his administration.
Nevertheless, the media never cease to amaze me with their incessant nitpicky criticisms of Trump. This time, Politico is going after Trump for his apparent lack of commitment to physical fitness – even going so far as to call him the “least athletic president in generations” in the sub-headline to Ben Strauss’ article.
In the modern history of American presidents, no occupant of the Oval Office has evinced less interest in his own health. He does not smoke or drink, but his fast-food, red meat-heavy diet, his aversion to exercise and a tendency to gorge on television for hours at a time put him at odds with his predecessors.
What’s laughable about Strauss’ criticism of Trump’s love for fast food and penchant for riding in golf carts is that the author plays the comparison game. Sure, past presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush put forth an image of fit masculinity, and Gerald Ford was actually a college football star, but the Democrats that Strauss tried to compare Trump to pale by comparison.
Strauss says Bill Clinton was a jogger, but I recall late night hosts referring to the pudgy president as “President Fatboy.” Barack Obama? Maybe he stayed rail-thin and played hoops in the executive mansion for show, but who can forget his inability to throw a baseball, his riding a bike in mom jeans, or – worst of all – his unrepentant smoking habit.
Most glaringly, Strauss writes of John F. Kennedy’s “youthful vitality even as he secretly took painkillers for his bad back and other ailments.” Is a president who looks fit while addicted to prescription drugs in his 40s really a better role model than one who loves him some KFC and gets “exhausted” on an international trip at age 71?
Strauss relies on former Trump acquaintances who have written tell-all books about the man who would be president for anecdotes about Trump’s eating and exercise routines, and he tries to tie in the president’s predilection for pointing out others’ appearances with Trump’s apparent lack of fitness. Bless his heart, Strauss tries his best to make Trump look like a dumpy slob, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.
Here’s the thing: in my own life, I’ve realized my shortcomings when it comes to fitness and have recently made a commitment to get as close as possible to what I weighed in college. But when I look at role models in my quest, past and present chief executives don’t come to mind, nor do other politicians, for that matter.
The millions who elected Trump weren’t looking for a fitness-trainer-in-chief when they went to the polls, and I would wager that the same went for past presidents. And as long as Trump is doing his best to serve the country as president, his eating and workout habits are between him and his doctor, as far as I’m concerned. Ben Strauss is just another media figure looking for a way to take a Republican president down by a thousand paper cuts.