Corpulent to gaunt governor

Is there anything more irritating than a successful dieter?
You know the kind of person I mean … the dude who for years plowed into food with a shovel in one hand and a bulldozer in the other. Out of the blue, dude puts down the shovel, parks the bulldozer, grabs a set of chop sticks and delicately picks his way through a plate of salad greens.
The guy who used to live on southern fried chicken suddenly only wants grilled, boneless, skinless, white meat. So much for the greasy good times the two of you had rearing back and chewing the fat, while gnawing on a chicken bone or two.
Worse yet is when the dude is a “someone” such as Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who shed 105 pounds this past year. Our once portly, round faced guv is now a lean, mean governing machine set on doing his best for everyone: Chubby-cheeked children waddling around the play grounds; cute, corpulent co-eds huffing their way across campus; big mommas and poppas stocking up on snacks, treats, munchies and sugar laden soda.
Our newly thin guv did not eat any of those foods this past year. In fact, to insure he adhered to his diet he graciously accepted invitations to all the usual banquets and public events, and showed up with his personal meal: a cooler of lean meats and healthy foods, according to a story last week in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
His persistence worked. He’s now a gaunt guv. He enjoys his new body so much he wants everyone to share the experience. Last week he announced a new initiative “Healthy Arkansas” with a goal “to reduce obesity, tobacco use and physical inactivity” in Arkansas before he leaves office in January 2007. Ole’ Huck intends to make sure that Arkansas folks join him on the diet band wagon, shed those excess pounds, get out and pound the pavement and start making healthier choices.
Ohhh, the insufferable presence of the newly thin.
Just what Arkansas needs, in the midst of the school consolidation conflict … a diet. If we aren’t snapping at each other enough already, the governor wants us to leave the comfort of our couches, go through sugar withdrawal and to decline our favorite comfort foods just when we need them the most.
Whoever heard of anyone grabbing a carrot when they were seething with rage, sad or scared … as is the caldron of emotions brewing across the state in this second spring of considering consolidation. Who can calmly, rationally look at healthy eating habits in the midst of turmoil?
Governor Huckabee can and did. As a newly, successful thin man, the guv expects us to follow his example. He says achieving his goal is challenging but “realistic,” according to the Democrat-Gazette. This guy who dared say the 13-letter C-word last year – even if it scared school-aged children, their parents and teachers across the state – last week intruded into everyone’s life with the dreaded four letter word “diet.”
The man has no shame.
He also has no plan – Huckabee simply wants to half the number of obese Arkansans, half the smokers and double the number of exercisers. He left the details to the Health Department.
Like many other self-righteous, successful dieters, he looked at the rest of us, declared us unfit and said it was time we shaped up. No one is arguing with him, it just looks as difficult as quietly consolidating a few state schools.
So, there’s our thin governor’s new program folks. Get up, turn off the TV, take the kids to the park and play ball. Then try rearing back and chewing the fat about consolidation while gnawing a picnic supper of vegetable sticks, apples and grilled, skinless, boneless chicken.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times.)