Friday, February 25, 2011

The Platitudes of Pigs

When you consider how well his musings peg the Obama administration, George Orwell seems more prophet than pundit. And Michelle Obama's farcical anti-obesity campaign draws an interesting parallel to one of his predictions.

We Americans realize that Michelle Obama thinks that she and the others in her husband's administration know better what is right for us and our children than we do, but it is incredibly insulting that she, her husband, and her children routinely enjoy a diet of expensive and often unhealthy foods while she tries to mandate that we routinely stuff bland carrots and celery sticks in our children’s craws.

You see, it's not just the fact that she routinely eats this stuff that makes it irritating-- it's the elitism and hypocrisy of it all. And Orwell pointed out the danger in accepting such inequality over sixty years ago.

Eating good-tasting and unhealthy food is an enjoyable vice for many Americans, First family included. Some people indulge too much or too often, as one could with any vice. But consider what Orwell had to say about vice and the ruling class. In Animal Farm, the ruling class of pigs forbids all consumption of alcohol among the members of the farm. Of course, what applies to the masses does not apply to the ruling class, so the pigs indulge in their own vices by frequently getting drunk in the farmhouse.

Then consider that the Obamas tell us that Americans need to tighten their belts and eat healthier, only to host lavish galas with copious amounts of unhealthy food and drink in their farmhouse, even as the economy is crumbling. The actions of Orwell’s “pigs” parallel those of our own "pigs" perfectly.

But the correlation doesn't end there. Note that in Animal Farm, anytime the lesser animals would question the pigs' actions, a pig by the name of Squealer would always come up with wild defenses of the ruling class. Well, the Obamas seem to have legions of their own "Squealers."

Recently, Michelle Obama came under conservative fire for eating a lavish meal of short ribs, a delicacy not normally known for its healthy qualities. But Randy Wyrick of Vail Daily quickly defended her order of "braised short ribs" as a healthy choice for the First Lady. "A braised short rib is a relatively lean cut of beef, braised with most of the fat cooked off. The 5-ounce serving runs about 600 calories, Liken said-- a far cry from the 1,500 calories it is accused of."

This information came from restaurateur Kelly Liken’s mouth, so we can go out on a limb and assume it’s true, despite the fact that other sources lay a serving of braised short ribs with a tally of 1,060 calories and 200% of a recommended daily intake of saturated fat. Of course, to do this, we also have to overlook that she was clearly enamored with the First Lady and would likely not want to damage her image or her health campaign, making Liken another possible “Squealer.” But though this might be enough to quell the conservative backlash, Wyrick frantically continues his defense to the point of ridiculousness.

He goes on to say, "A skier will burn off about 6,000 calories during the course of the day." So even if you don't buy that braised short-ribs are healthy, she's burning off well more calories than the critics say she's taking in. But of course, by that logic, cheeseburgers and fries must not be altogether bad choices for children, as they have much higher metabolic rates than adults and tend to be more active, meaning they more quickly burn calories and burn them more often. But increased activity doesn’t make cheeseburgers any healthier for kids, and it certainly wouldn’t make the hypocrisy of Michelle’s choice any easier to digest.

In the closing argument of his defense, Wyrick reminds us that she ate the ribs with a knife and fork, as if that should somehow change our opinion of the nutritional content of the meal. As if to say that what she did is nothing like a fat American eating ribs with his hands; it’s much more health-conscious and respectable.

It’s seems clear that he would say just about any damn thing to defend Michelle Obama.

But let’s be honest. Most of us really don’t care what the Obamas eat, though we’d certainly like for them to be a bit more frugal considering that battered taxpayers are picking up the checks. I think we’d settle to just have Barack and Michelle keep their noses in their own troughs, rather than demanding that Americans live in a way that they themselves would not.

William Sullivan

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