Vote their bellies over Bush?

Columnist : Albert Paschall

Saturday I bought new trousers and took them to the tailor to get hemmed. I’ve been wearing the same size for years and the tailor is a very diplomatic lady. She pronounced them “possibly a little snug” after she waited while I held my breath for 10 minutes to get the waist buttoned.

Most Saturdays I have to grind out 600 words or so of inspiration and banging away at the laptop must burn a lot of calories. I’m often hungry and treat myself to a sit down lunch. Weekdays I generally don’t have the time and maintain a healthy eating schedule by balancing my Snickers bars with diet Coke. So when I want to treat myself my first choice is usually my pal Tony’s restaurant, after hundreds of visits I’ve never had a bad meal there.

Tony has turned the spatula into high art form. From cheese steaks to meatballs, hoagie to burgers Tony does it right. To me his pizza with mushrooms to me is a 5 star, first class dining experience.

But after the trip to the tailor I wondered whether Tony could be to blame for my expanding waist line? After all this is America, so somebody other than me has to be at fault.

I was relieved to learn that it’s not his fault at all. According to the National Calorie Calculator my slice of pizza with mushrooms probably only had about 9 grams of fat in it. If I had gone down the street to any of the national fast food joints for a belly busting burger with fries I’d have easily hit 60 grams of fat. Throw in a super sized, sugar sweet soft drink and there’s another 250 calories to tote around.

The US governments’ food police, the Food and Drug Administration has identified America’s waist lines as public enemy number one. According to the FDA obesity is the nation’s premier health problem and an agency task force is working on trimming the fat.

Among the ideas that the FDA’s committee is reviewing is forcing restaurants to publish nutritional values on menus. Proponents argue that food processors have had to do that for years on packaged foods sold in super markets so why not list fat content, calories and vitamins on the selections of every restaurant in the land?

Someday with the FDA’s help whether it’s a sausage in Stroudsburg, kielbasa in King of Prussia or hamburgers in Harrisburg you will know exactly what’s in what you are eating courtesy of a bunch of tofu chugging bureaucrats.

About a year before the end of the first Bush presidency elements within the Environmental Protection Agency had nothing to do. So they ran amok with new regulations on business owners. Election Day ’92 became Bill Clinton’s and he permanently suspended the environmental edicts early in his first term in office.

All of that might have been a coincidence. The difference is that, to his great credit, the bureaucratic aristocracy in Washington is afraid of a second Bush term. No President in modern history has done more to try and curb their pervasive appetites for more control over our daily lives.

A year before the next election the FDA is considering punishing millions of small business owners across the country who are simply selling what people like. The policy wonks at the top of the Bush food chain better keep their eyes on the President’s menu. Top of it is re-election and if the FDA moves ahead come next November people might be tempted to vote their bellies over Bush.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]