Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Another Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

The Economist looks at the importance of exercise to George Bush:

Enthusiasm for sport can be a ticket to Mr Bush’s inner circle. Ms Rice works out with the president and spends time at Camp David watching baseball and football on television (apparently her most cherished dream is to be appointed the commissioner of the National Football League). And a poor physique can test the president’s patience. When Mr Bush sacked Larry Lindsey, his portly economic adviser during his first term, he apparently complained in private about his failure to exercise.

Mr Bush’s obsession was on full display during the search for a new Supreme Court justice. He apparently asked one candidate, Harvie Wilkinson, two tough questions: What is the most difficult decision you have ever made? And how much do you exercise? The 60-year-old Mr Wilkinson said he ran three and a half miles a day. But the president urged him to do more cross-training. “He warned me of impending doom,” Mr Wilkinson told the New York Times. In introducing the successful candidate, John Roberts, to the country Mr Bush highlighted the fact that he had been captain of his high-school football team—as if this made up for the fact that he was a swot at Harvard Law School.

They compare George Bush’s exercise habits to those of Bill Clinton whose “jogging was mostly for show, and a hefty hamburger would often be consumed afterwards.” These differences are then extended to the two political parties:

Mr Bush’s own likings are par for the course in his party. Look at the Republicans on Capitol Hill. Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, made his name as a high-school wrestling coach. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is a keen marathon runner who takes his staff on workouts around the Mall. Another senator with presidential ambitions, George Allen, was a college sports star (and the son of a famous Redskins coach). And Arnold Schwarzenegger is, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Or look at Republican voters. If the Democrats have an impregnable lead among the country’s PhDs, the Republicans have a lock on the NASCAR crowd. For Democrats the main qualification for a top job is “intelligence”—hence their constant complaint that Republican presidents are too dumb for the job. But for Republicans the most important qualification is “character”—by which they mean an ability to hit balls and bang heads.

Of course there are always exceptions as they concede that not “all Democrats are nerds (John Kerry is a superb athlete), nor that all Republicans are jocks (Karl Rove is many things; athlete is not one of them).”


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