On Newt's weight, chocolate, beer and other tough choices

Last night I heard former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives political activist and conservative Guru Newt Gingrich’s opinion of the world. The Salem State University Series invited Mr. Gingrich to appear on March 30. As he is floating rumors about running for the next presidential election, I was curious to see politics in action. I was not disappointed:

Mr. Gingrich spent most of the hour comparing his ongoing weight problem and love for chocolate (with or without beer) to making tough choices. Along the way, he taught us basic mathematics and explained he learned this while helping Poland gain independence. He also reported on his co-inventions of the double-hulled tanker, balanced budget and energy alternatives such as bio-fuels.

The point of this “weighty” exposé took a while coming, but when it arrived, it was a zinger: Job creation & putting the poor to work will solve all the recent Economic woes, and should also have been dealt with by encouraging lending by small community-based banks. Forgetting achievements of the previous administration that led to this crisis, Mr. Gingrich apparently has an unlimited ability to forget the recent past:

“… in the space of three weeks, Gingrich went from blasting Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone in Libya “this evening’’ to blasting Obama for imposing a no-fly zone in Libya. On March 3 he wanted the president to tell Khadafy “that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.’’ By March 23 he was mocking “humanitarian intervention’’ as an unserious “public relations conversation…’’ *)

He does think however, that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

Now what all this does have to do with making tough choices and Mr. Gingrich’s weight problem? Focusing on this part of his speech, he has tried to balance chocolate and beer as part of an ongoing effort to shed pounds for most of his life (thus far conspicuously unsuccessful). As an admirer of American Entrepreneurship, he might want to reconsider his dietary choices, but above all, not use his personal failures as a metaphor for solving America’s problems. The entrepreneurs mentioned in his speech certainly did not achieve success by stubbornly holding on to failing concepts. Mr. Gingrich, try to perhaps add exercise beyond appearing on TV to your regimen! You also might want to read more about the dangers of obesity here:



Politics aside, I was disappointed to listen to a rather long-winded speech that did not offer much more than insight in Mr. Gingrich’s ever losing battle with his girth. As a physician who spends most of his time dealing with the consequences of such habits, I find it particularly frustrating to hear this struggle elevated to a debate about fixing America. In this respect, it is fairly typical of many obese patients who want a pill or procedure in favor of diet, exercise and other measures that together would offer a much more meaningful chance of success. Mr. Gingrich’s “pill” is a choice between two bad alternatives and he rejects the obvious solutions. How can we expect him to make “tough choices” for America if he cannot make them for himself?

Please tell me what you think,

Dr. T


*): The Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist, reported on 3/27/2011.


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