This is one of those stories that proves that truth really is stranger than fiction. Chris Christie, the, er, “portly” governor of New Jersey, has notified the general in charge of the state’s National Guard that he must lose weight if he wants to keep his job.
According to NBC New York, Christie has given Air Force Brigadier General Michael Cunniff 90 days to trim down. This comes on the heels of Cunniff getting a similar message from the Pentagon over his weight. Christie staffers say that the governor was not aware that Cunniff had been talked to about his weight by his superiors when Christie delivered his message. Cunniff has repeatedly dodged fitness tests.
The Associated Press reports that Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said in an emailed statement,
“The Governor has expressed directly to the General that his failure to meet that standard or to provide notification of his formal reprimand is both unacceptable and disappointing.”
Of course this wouldn’t be quite the same story were it not for Christie’s own weight problems. There’s just something ironic about a man who wants to be the first significantly overweight president since the 300 pound plus William Howard Taft telling another leader that he’s too heavy. Christie underwent “lap band” surgery in February 2013, and photos show that the governor has lost a fair amount of weight. But they also show that he has a way to go. He won’t say what he weighed before the surgery, or how much he weighs now, but The New York Times reports that he told conservative donors at a meeting hosted by David Koch that he had lost at least 85 pounds.
Weight issues aside, the problem with Gen. Cunniff is just the latest in a series of headaches for Christie when it comes to his role as commander of his state’s militia. The Washington Post reports that the New Jersey National Guard has “become increasingly dysfunctional under his [Christie’s] watch.” Christie’s first pick to head the Guard was a two-star general who was also a childhood friend. He was forced to resign after he was caught having an affair at work. Recently, several officers have filed whistleblower complaints, alleging a “toxic” command climate and other problems with the Guard. If Christie can’t control the 8,400 person National Guard, how can voters feel comfortable that he can be an effective commander-in-chief as president?
It’s likely that New Jersey voters would like to give Chris Christie an ultimatum like he delivered to the general — shape up or get out. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released in August shows Christie’s approval rating in the state is standing at 37 percent. And in Iowa, he is polling at a dismal one percent among GOP presidential candidates.
So it’s looking increasingly likely that Chris Christie will only make it to the White House if he has a ticket for a tour. But maybe he and Gen. Cunniff can go into business together and open a Retrofitness franchise. Or maybe just say the hell with it and open a Dunkin Donuts.
Featured image via Luigi Novi/Wikipedia