Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 11, 2004
Watching the presidential races, it’s clear the candidates believe the election will turn on one of two issues – Iraq and the war on terror, or the economy.
Polls show that President Bush enjoys a strong advantage on the war and defense, while Democrat John Kerry fares slightly better on the economy.
Historically, the economy has been the most important issue to American voters in selecting their president, but in the post-9-11 world, that could change.
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While both issues, one would think, are certainly important, I tend to believe both candidates, and their parties, are misreading the American electorate in 2004.
Sure, people want to feel secure in their jobs, as well as their beds at night. But those are not the overriding issues weighing heavily on the minds of voters this year.
It’s my belief that the election of 2004 is going to hinge on one issue: carbohydrates.
Americans are obsessed with carbohydrates. You don’t see people flocking to Lowe’s to stock up on duct tape or gas masks – that’s old news. Now they’re loading up on bacon and eggs and removing the buns from their whoppers. The looks of disdain I received recently at a restaurant after daring to order pasta were akin to the ones people get when they fire up a cigarette or pass gas. They’re militant.
And judging from some recent news reports surfacing, this is issue could be problematic for the administration.
The Drudge Report reported a few days ago that Bush’s FDA Chairman Lester Crawford is prepared to publish a book that claims that the president looked the other way while Americans’ waistlines bulged.
&uot;The president surrounded himself with old fat warriors,&uot; Crawford writes. &uot;People like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who when last serving in positions of public responsibility, were committed to waging war on fat people, were eating. They couldn’t see past the old battles, despite the work of Dr. Atkins and the South Beach Diet. Carbs just weren’t an urgent issue for the administration.&uot;
When he took his concerns direct to the president, Crawford writes that Bush was uninquistive and appeared uninterested.
&uot;Clinton proved that carbs don’t matter,&uot; Cheney told Crawford, referring to the former president’s love of carb-rich foods and his excessive girth, neither of which seemed to impact his popularity.
Furthermore, Crawford reportedly details in the book how Cheney invited officials from Pillsbury, Muellers pasta, Pizza Hut, Uncle Ben’s, and Krispy Kreme, to secret meetings at the White House in the spring of 2001 where they helped dictate the nation’s nutrition policies – policies that proved to be a bonanza for the Bread Industrial Complex.
But the administration is not taking Crawford’s allegations lying down, and in the past few days have been dispatching representatives to television talk shows to attack Crawford’s motives and credibility.
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice (Anti-carb conspiracy theorists are having a field day on the Internet with that last name), told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that it’s her belief that Crawford was upset over being passed over for a promotion. She disputed his allegations that the president looked the other way as the nation got fatter and fatter.
&uot;Unlike the Clinton administration, which simply wanted to contain carbohydrates, adopting a policy of moderation, it was our intention to eradicate them entirely,&uot; she told Russert.
The president is resisting calls by fat congressional Democrats for the establishment of a commission to investigate his activities in the months prior to obesity replacing tobacco as the number one cause of preventable death. It remains to be seen how all this will pan out, but the public must know what the president knew and when he knew it.
Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via e-mail at andy.Prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com.