I’ve alluded to this before, but I’m overweight. I mean, I’m really big — although I’m also 6′ 4″, which makes it marginally less obvious that smaller medievalists fall into orbit when they get too close. (Because they’re medievalists, by the way, their orbits are perfectly circular, with the occasional epicycle.) I know it isn’t good for me, and it’s something with which I struggle on a daily basis, and if I don’t succeed, it’s probably going to make my life shorter, and already makes parts of it less pleasant. What’s more, I know what I have to do in order to fix it — I’m just really bad at that part, due to pathologies psychological and/or spiritual. But it’s my problem — I own it, and I’ll deal with it or not until I resolve it or vice versa.
But one thing I don’t do is blame, for example, the frappuccino makers of the world, or the folks at Taco Bell. My problem does not mean that people without my problem shouldn’t be able to enjoy themselves. For that matter, even people with problems like mine have the right to do the damnfool things that I do. As I said, my vices are my vices, or as my mother said, “Your sins are your business.”
That brings me to an article at NRO today. Julie Gunlock of the Independent Women’s Forum comments on the reaction to Michelle Obama’s recent stop at a diner in Milwaukee. Mrs. Obama has the right to eat a cheeseburger if she can find someone who is willing to sell it to her. Hell, she has the right to eat a puppy, if she can find someone who is willing to sell it to her (No puppies were harmed in the preparation of this blog post). I don’t begrudge her that.
But as Gunlock notes,
What grates is that she doesn’t seem to trust average Americans to make similarly good (or occasionally bad) choices for themselves and their families.It is precisely these concepts of choice and personal responsibility that seem to elude the first lady and the president. Since making obesity her signature issue, Mrs. Obama has made it clear that she thinks more government is the solution to the nation’s weight problems, just as her husband thinks it is the solution to the nation’s health-care problems. In her view, healthy lunches provided by schools, not parents, are the key to combatting childhood obesity. Government can make Americans fit by finger-wagging at restaurants for cooking with cream and butter, and chastising grocery stores for having the temerity to stock salt and snack foods on their shelves.
These efforts illustrate one simple truth: The Obamas don’t seem to think most Americans can control themselves or know what’s good for them. Rather, they view Americans as children in need of instruction, close monitoring, behavior modification, and punishment if they rebel. In short, the American people need a mother. And Michelle Obama seems to be nurturing this concept of presidential parenting.
But you see, it wasn’t bad parenting that made me fat. My folks never said, “Gee, Mondo, we think you ought to gorge yourself into a stupor.” Quite the contrary. You see, there’s the dark little secret: Mommies and Daddies can’t fix everything. And trying to do so sometimes just results in stunted children.
That’s my problem with the people — like Michelle Obama and her ilk — who would use government to try to cure me of my vices. Treating me as a child, even if it stops me from behaving badly, stunts my moral sense. Again to cop a line from Milton, I can’t stand unless I’m free to fall. And letting the government usurp my responsibility to and for myself is at least as poisonous as a Wendy’s Triple. Burgers taste better than servitude.