Expectations of a Political Leader

President Obama’s pick for Surgeon General is a Doctor from Alabama, Regina Benjamin. Sounds innocuous enough, but the controversy surrounding her recently is the fact that she is fairly overweight. By fairly I mean obviously. Critics have been slamming the would-be Surgeon General pick because of her weight, saying that she is unfit to tell Americans how to take care of themselves if she can’t take care of herself. Leaders, for years now, have been calling obesity in America a serious problem.

About 1980, the health and physical fitness of Americans began a downward spiral, as the rates of overweight and obesity began to climb. The nation now faces a growing public health epidemic, one that threat­ens the well-being of future generations. As the nation has become more urbanized, motorized, and screen-centered, an increasing number of peo­ple lead sedentary lives, and the rates of overweight and obesity continue to soar. The United States has the highest prevalence of obesity in the world. (The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports)

Those who are backing Dr. Benjamin for Surgeon General (I can’t find the article. I will post it when I find it) are saying that, because of her weight issue, she is in a better position to give advice. She can tell people about the dangers of being overweight because she struggles with it herself. Now, don’t get me wrong, but isn’t that like saying the Drug-Czar should be a heroin-addicted, drug-addict, because he understands drugs. Or like saying the local police chief should be a convicted serial-killer because he understands the criminal mind. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to go to a marriage counselor who has been married three times.

Obviously there are many pressing health issues in America besides obesity and she may be a perfect choice for them all, but don’t give me this crap about her being in a better position because of her weight (I don’t know where she stands on any issues so this isn’t an endorsement). Just admit you like her as Surgeon General despite it, not because of it, and I’ll respect your opinion much more.

So What

Now, what does this have to do with expectations of political leaders?

I remember in elementary school, being given some kind of President’s Physical Fitness Award –I don’t remember the exact title. But during P.E. we had certain things we had to do –pull-ups, sit-ups, etc..— in order to get this award. And it would have been weird to me for the President to ask all of us kids to be active if he wasn’t. Now, I was young and don’t remember if President Reagan was a very active man, but at his age he must have been in order to do the job of President.

I also don’t know whether the first President Bush was very active or not. But I do remember when Clinton jogged to McDonalds, and the infamous CigarGate, so I don’t think Clinton was all that health conscious. The second President Bush was very active and took his health extremely serious. To my knowledge, he didn’t drink or smoke and was either riding a bike or running every chance he got. Now with Obama as President I don’t know what his stance or views will be towards a healthy lifestyle. I know he smokes and drinks, now how much, who knows, but that is different than our last president. He and his family look to be in good shape, so we’ll see.

I say all of that to ask this: What do we expect out of our leaders? Do we expect them to be good role models? And then, what is a good role model? What do we want or not want them to do? Do we care whether or not the president or surgeon general or governor are obese or an alcoholic? Do we want our leaders to be monogamous? Do we care if he/she has a fling on the side as long as they are good at their job?

Do we treat our political leaders differently than we do our employees or co-workers? What if the top salesman in a large company was obese, do you think he would be fired? Of course not. How about if he was cheating on his wife? Nope, the company would care less as long as he is producing great results.

So, why do we expect so much of our leaders in office? And should we? Do the moral and “life” choices leaders make, give an indication of what kind of person they are?

I’m not going to reveal my opinion just yet…I want to hear from you. I’ll post again soon and finish this conversation.


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5 Responses to Expectations of a Political Leader

  1. Heidi says:

    I like it! You bring up many great points that I think most people don’t really think about. Good job hunny!

  2. Tim Hodge says:

    Very interesting thoughts here Roy. I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning. Some things you don’t need a computer program to figure out. They are as simple as 2+2=?

  3. Roy Bauer says:

    Thanks guys. But please don’t hold back. Don’t feel like you need to be politically correct. If someone gets offended that’s okay. If that someone is me, that’s okay too. royb

  4. Em says:

    Hmmm, I had to think about this for a few minutes. Since I live in the wonderful state of NJ, political corruption is practically the norm. The state government here is disgusting and I am not even talking about the Governor. He seems to be the only one above taking bribes because he already has a ton of money.
    On the other hand I am not a citizen and therefore not able to vote so I don’t pay much attention to the disgrace that is called the government. I have no opinion on the Dr that Obama wants to appoint but when politicians get caught cheating on their wives or husbands or have some other personal failure I don’t think they should step down from their post. If a CEO of a company was caught with a mistress no one would even bat an eyelash. If the offense has nothing to do with the ability to perform their duties I think it should be a family matter, not one for public debate.
    In that way of thinking I suppose that it does not matter if the new Surgeon General is overweight as long as she can perform the duties that she is supposed to do (I guess I did have an opinion!).
    Oh, and I would not care if my marriage counselor was married three times. I would figure that would make them an expert on what the hell goes wrong and why 😉

  5. Roy Bauer says:


    Thanks for your honest opinions. NJ definitely was in the press yesterday. It seems right now that SC and NJ are putting out some really good ones lately.

    We, as normal human beings, don’t care whether or not our co-workers are living immorally, because that doesn’t affect their work, and in turn, our paychecks. But, our political leaders aren’t just co-workers or employees or employers, they also legislate, right or wrong, our morality.

    So, in that sense, do we care if the ones in charge of putting out laws telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, are living out what they are “preaching”?

    Maybe not….

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