Certain conservative pundits (Glenn Beck) and loud-mouths (Sarah Palin) have gone after First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program.
In an extraordinarily bitchy snipe at the FLOTUS in one of her reality show episodes, Palin is heard saying "in honor of Michelle Obama" as she fumbles around a cupboard for some sugary, caloric filled nonnutritional treat for her children. She's attacked the FLOTUS on other occasions--for what? Mrs. Obama is calling attention to our country's disturbing obesity problem and the heartbreaking epidemic of childhood obesity--brought on by poor food choices and not enough exercise.
How any brain-functioning adult could find fault with a message that encourages children to take on good eating habits and more physical activity is astonishing. One would have to be some sort of cynical, attention-seeking, knuckle-dragging know-nothing to be against suggestions such as those the FLOTUS has been advocating for children. But then, it is Sarah Palin who made the snide remark, isn't it.
It is interesting to note that Palin has a 33% approval rating in Alaska, and in every other state where polling on her was done, she has negative numbers as well. Apparently the American people are weary of her uninformed opinions and sniping at the heels of people who actually are, y'know, working to help this country.
Another poll revealed that Palin's most ardent supporters are Americans who completed their GED only and those who did not.
Here's Fred Hiatt of the WaPo's opinion piece on the silliness of finding fault with Mrs. Obama's common sense program of getting children to eat fewer sweets and to engage in more physical activity.
"It's never easy for the spouse of a president, who so far has always been a wife, to settle on a signature issue. Choose something trivial, and she'll be accused of frothiness unworthy of strong and independent womanhood. Choose something more controversial, and people immediately demand, "Who elected you?"
In that context, the first lady's campaign would seem to have struck Goldilocks perfection. The obesity epidemic is a genuine public health emergency, with vast implications for the nation's well-being, economy and even national security. And yet, could anyone really be against children eating healthier food and getting more exercise? Could anyone really object to White House assistant chef Sam Kass trying to interest Elmo in a vegetable-laden burrito
Well, yes, if Michelle Obama is for it, someone will be against it. Someone like Glenn Beck, for example, who was moved to rail against carrot sticks, or Sarah Palin, who warned that Obama wants to deprive us all of dessert.The most curious aspect of this issue is the fact that Palin, while governor of Alaska, issued a proclamation that is almost exactly the same as what Mrs. Obama advocates:
And when you look a little deeper, it's not surprising that a crusade seemingly beyond questioning would become a political battle. Interests that might feel threatened by Let's Move include the fast-food industry, agribusiness, soft-drink manufacturers, real estate developers (because suburban sprawl is implicated), broadcasters and their advertisers (of sugary cereals and the like), and the oil-and-gas and automotive sectors (because people ought to walk more and drive less).
Throw in connections to the health-care debate (because preventive services will be key to controlling the epidemic), race (because of differential patterns of obesity) and red state-blue state hostilities (the reddest states tend to be the fattest), and it turns out there are few landmines that Michelle Obama didn't trip by asking us all to shed a few pounds.
Insinuations from her critics notwithstanding, Obama has not endorsed nanny-state or controversial remedies such as ending sugar subsidies, imposing soda-pop taxes or zoning McDonald's out of certain neighborhoods. Instead, she is pushing for positive, voluntary change: more recess and physical activity, more playgrounds, more vegetable gardens, fresher food in schools and grocery stores, better education on the issue for parents and children.
All of this makes total sense, and historians will marvel (much as they will at climate-change deniers) that anyone could doubt it. The percentage of American adults who are obese more than doubled in the past 30 years, from 15 percent to 34 percent (with another 34 percent overweight); the share of obese children and teenagers more than tripled, from 5 percent to 17 percent. In fact, the astonishing acceleration of the epidemic (which may now have leveled off) might explain some of the skepticism; it takes a while for awareness to catch up to statistics.
But the statistics are scary. The implications for these children are heartbreaking, literally (obesity is associated with higher incidence of heart disease as well as diabetes) and figuratively. For the nation, it could be bankrupting. Obesity and its attendant ills already may add as much as $147 billion to health-care costs each year, one-tenth of the nation's medical bill, a figure that is certain to rise. And the Army reports that one in four young people is too fat to serve.
That's why obesity is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Obama has merely extended and amplified a campaign that began under President George W. Bush; Bush's last acting surgeon general, Steven K. Galson, made obesity a signature issue, calling it "a national health crisis . . . [that] is driving up healthcare costs and crippling the fabric of our communities."
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the first lady’s efforts to date are in keeping with what Palin herself has supported in the past.
" 'Health-care reform on an individual basis is often just this simple: we could save a lot of money and a lot of grief by making smarter choices,' ” Palin said in her 2009 State of the State address, according to the Journal. " 'It starts by ending destructive habits and beginning healthy habits in eating and exercise.'
"Mrs. Obama's campaign is grounded in similar sentiments, and in that sense is unusual for this White House in emphasizing personal responsibility,"
Sarah Palin comes off looking like a braying jackass in all of this noncontroversy. Palin is so uninformed and shallow, that she is unaware that she actually suggested that government has a interest in the health of its citizens and making suggestions on how to improve that health is perfectly within the scope of a governor (Palin) or a First Lady.
Sadly, Palin has nothing to add to our political discourse, so her fall-back is to criticize a woman who is smarter, more accomplished and doing more for America than Palin is. Good luck with that, Sarah. Enjoy watching your numbers tank while you denigrate a genuine class-act.