Discrimination is not illegal. We are free to discriminate for an almost infinite number of reasons, unless specifically proscribed by law.
We cannot therefore discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnic background, disabilities, and in many states, sexual orientation.
However, one of the most insidious forms of discrimination remains: weight. The overweight often receive the full brunt of discrimination. Whether they are called fat, corpulent, obese, overweight, tubby, or worse, doesn’t matter; they are often treated as pariahs. Better to be bulimic than bloated!
And that brings us to the New Jersey gubernatorial race.
Jon Corzine had risen to the Chair of Goldman Sachs, but was given a $400 million golden parachute in 1999 as he was unceremoniously fired from the company.
He used his fortune to win the open Senate seat in New Jersey, and was elected governor 5 years later, again using his personal fortune to secure the victory.
New Jersey is a notoriously corrupt state; the voters reasoned that with his personal fortune, Corzine was incorruptible.
He was, but the rest of the state government was not. 2009 is so far a normal year with 14 recent indictments of state and local politicians on corruption charges. State residents also face high income taxes, high property taxes, high unemployment, and high budget deficits. Voters are in a surly mood.
The abrasive Governor Corzine is trailing in his reelection bid in the heavily Democratic state to his Republican challenger, Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor who earned his reputation by prosecuting corruption in the Land of the Sopranos. Corzine cannot run on his record or competence. He has finally found Christi’s weakness. The challenger is grossly overweight.
Corzine ran an ad the other day, asserting that Christie used his position as a prosecutor to get special favors, such as avoiding tickets. The ad shows the ponderous Christie slowly exiting a SUV as the commentator accuses him of throwing his weight around.
The ad is in utter bad taste, but it’s just politics. Negative campaigning is proven effective. As long as it’s not illegal, anything goes in politics. And even if illegal, many political operatives figure it’s still OK as long as they are not caught.
The ads focusing on Christie’s weight are winning votes for Corzine. Christie’s ten point lead is collapsing, but the election is still his to lose. Unless he finds a way to respond to Corzine’s incessant negative ads, Christie will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
One way for Christie to respond is to remind New Jersey voters of the Governor’s demonstrated double standards.
Governor Corzine’s chauffeur, a state trooper, was speeding 91mph with flashing lights in a 65mph zone. The Governor was severely injured when the car veered out of control. Corzine, riding in the front seat, was not wearing his seat belt.
Emergency vehicles can obviously speed in an emergency, but the only “emergency” was that the Governor was running late to a meeting.
If Governor Corzine wins reelection, and the voters return the Democrats to majority control of both state houses, then New Jersey deserves the consequences.