With a sluggish economy, high unemployment rate, record foreclosures, it seemed fitting that the incumbents within the U.S. government would pay a heavy price for the current state affairs. Bolstered by anti-incumbent sentiment, the GOP backed by the voter discontent and the loosely, irrelevant albeit paper tiger tea baggers(as Bill Maher would refer to tea party folks) won back the house, and narrowed the democratic lead in the senate. The Obama administration has had two years to produce results where it matters most –jobs and the economy- but so far has failed to live up to the expectations.
Both parties and most Americans may disagree on policy issues, on ideology, and whether or not Texas should secede from the union. Obesity though, is something that should unite all Americans. First Lady Michelle Obama has been pushing an obesity awareness campaign, in a bid to keep our kids healthy, and reverse a trend that is growing at an alarming rate. Who in their right mind would dismiss such a worthwhile effort? Well, you guessed it, someone with a RIGHT mind. Enter former Governor Sarah Palin. Just when you thought Palin could no longer make any more stupid comments, she raises the bar.
One of the most polarizing political figures in recent history, Palin looks at Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign as government dictating to our kids what to eat. According to Palin, “Who should be deciding what I eat? Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents” as she dismissed Michelle Obama’s idea by bringing cookies to a Pennsylvania school meeting. Ironically, the parents’ right to determine what their kids ate might have been infringed upon by Palin bringing cookies for them, which is counter to what Palin was arguing for. Did she get permission from the parents of these children before handing them cookies? There is no evidence to suggest that she did. Of course parents are ultimately responsible for the welfare of their children. Michelle Obama was not saying government will tell kids not to eat dessert or ice cream, or anything else. What Michelle was trying to convey was the fact that dessert should not be viewed as a right. We have to encourage our children to eat healthy. Was Nancy Reagan wrong in telling kids to say no to drugs? Was Laura Bush wrong to ask kids to read? No. All of these First Ladies were advocating the kids’ best interests. When children go to school, any food they eat is beyond the parents’ control, and that is an area where there should be mandates as to what kids are eating.
Health and nutrition have been in the hands of parents, not government. There is no law currently stating that an individual cannot eat what they want to eat. But this speaks to a larger issue. The United States probably has the most overweight and obese people in the entire world. It is not surprising that this is the case. Looking at states like Texas, where one of the unofficial mottos “everything is bigger in Texas” –Texas sized doughnuts, Texas sized whopper, The Big Texan restaurant in Amarillo – is taken literally. It is no surprise that in recent years, a few Texas cities were named among the most fattest in the country. Houston has topped the most fattest city in America at least once in the last decade and remains a mainstay in the top ten. A rather dubious distinction, for a city known for NASA, oil fields, the nationally and internationally acclaimed Texas Medical Center Complex.
Prodding deeper, obesity and health issues offer the country long-term security. On domestic issues, the deficit and debt have taken center stage. We now realize that this country is at its breaking point financially, or really close to it. Two things that have helped amass much of the debt that the government is trying to tackle are healthcare, and entitlement spending. Focus on healthcare and we see that strokes, and heart issues are two of the leading healthcare costs in the United States. Some underlying contributing factors to heart disease and strokes are obesity and being overweight. Including diabetes, this picture becomes even gloomier. In essence, most of the healthcare costs in this country could be prevented if we stayed healthy, through exercising and good nutrition. This is by no means saying this is a fix all for the healthcare situation, but rather it is stating that diabetes in most quarters is preventable. Blood pressure issues by in large are preventable. Cardiac issues by in large are preventable. Or you can look at it as your chances of having a stroke, diabetes, blood pressure, ot cardiac issues are limited if good nutrition and exercising are tenets of your daily lifestyle.
This therefore means, less money spent on healthcare, which means a reduction in deficit and national debt through less spending on Medicare and Medicaid programs. Additionally, the private sector benefits as well, as there is bound to be increased productivity, which broadly could mean more profitability.
Sarah Palin, as one of the many faces of the tea party movement has this one all wrong. Questioning her as a person is wrong to do. However, had she thought about her statement before having this knee-jerk reaction, she would have noticed that Michelle Obama is trying to set an example, and help convey a message to parents about a “ not so silent” crisis we face in the U.S., and is doing so by recruiting parents using a public platform to slowly work towards helping instill good eating habits in our children.
One may ask why Sarah Palin would vociferously make such a statement. She just does not get it. This is a lady after all, who as a staunch conservative, did not know what the Bush Doctrine was, had no clue about the economy, could not list a single source from where she gets her news, and claimed her foreign policy experience was good because Russian bombers and fighter jets buzzed Alaskan airspace. The list goes on and on. It is one thing if a clueless politician or public figure makes one ill-advised comment. But it is another thing to be Sarah Palin. Very rarely does anything smart come out of her mouth. Her ideological conservative backers lash out at critics whom they say fear a woman who is taking on the establishment. To be taken seriously, she has to realize that it goes beyond looks. It is actually about being knowledgeable. So my advice to Sarah Palin is simply: educate yourself.
Michelle Obama was not saying children couldn’t eat desserts, but rather that we should not eat dessert all the time. Sounds like a fairly reasonable statement. Growing up, desserts weren’t a right in my household. They were the occasional treat. Obesity is a killer in this country. Government is certainly not going to tell us what to eat, but we would be well served to heed the advice for the sake of future generations. This was more about raising awareness than dictating policy. So comments like -parents should decide what we eat instead of government- are juvenile and disingenuous. Palin’s comments continue to reveal a trend of comments that are a disgrace to anything that resembles intelligence. This is more proof that stupidity is an equal opportunist, and Palin does not live in the real world. She comes off as a simple minded bench warmer who cannot come up with real solutions, but rather sits back and throws barbs and the usual conservative talking points about government intruding our lives. Better yet, maybe Palin is bucking the trend as a TRUE ROGUE, and showing the “lower 48” that Wasilla street smarts are inherently more important than a good education. Michelle Obama should be applauded for her efforts. As for Palin, most people(myself included) are still waiting for this horrible disappointment of a politician introduced to us by Senator John McCain to say anything that actually makes sense.