The standard excuse for this sort of nanny dietary hypocrisy, duly recited by Bloomberg this morning, is that no one ever said that it’s categorically wrong to indulge. Splurges are fine, so long as they’re occasional.
Not mentioned: A “splurge,” apparently, can involve eating upwards of 70 hot dogs at a sitting. William Saletan saw it coming in a piece at Slate last month:
[A]fter Bloomberg spoke at the 2003 weigh-in, his office posted video of his remarks. “This Fourth of July, roughly 150 million Americans across the country will enjoy at least one hot dog,” the mayor rejoiced. “Think about that: 150 million people scarfing down a typical American food.” Bloomberg noted with admiration that there’s a “science and strategy to the massive and swift consumption of hot dogs. I have to tip my hat to all of you who are competing. You are fine athletes.”
Critics puzzled over the mayor’s fetish. CNN’s financial editor called the contest an “orgy of overeating” and asked why Bloomberg would “dignify” it, “especially at a time when health experts are warning that so many Americans are obese.” But Bloomberg kept coming back. By 2007, he was using the weigh-in ceremony to extol gluttony. “Independence Day is a wonderful time to celebrate our freedoms,” he declared. “The right to eat as many hot dogs as possible—although not expressly named in the Bill of Rights—was no doubt on the minds of the framers.”…
To Bloomberg, it’s all in good fun. Shoving fat, salt, and white bread down your throat is a circus act, to be gawked at and celebrated on TV. But soda? That’s a health threat requiring government-enforced portion control. You can have it one way or the other, Mr. Mayor. You can preach moderation or the right to stuff yourself. But you can’t do both.
Apparently you can. After all, the hallmark of the soda portion ban is its arbitrariness. The city’s not stopping you from drinking more than 16 ounces at one sitting; it’s not even stopping you from buying a Big Gulp from certain vendors who are exempt under the new regs. It’s a small, almost random infringement on personal liberty designed to help the public get comfortable with the idea of their diets being regulated, a tentative first step on the slippery slope. That being so, why shouldn’t Bloomy endorse the occasional food orgy? If it sets a bad example and leads to more overeating, that’s fine — all the more reason for more intrusive regulations. If worse comes to worst, they can impose portion or serving controls on hot dogs too. Asking this guy to be more consistent about health policy as he becomes more powerful almost entirely misses the point, I think. And in fairness to Bloomberg, I’m not so sure that the hot dog eating contest cuts against his basic message. He wants people to think of gluttony less as an easy, enjoyable indulgence and more as a risky, deliberate, hopefully sporadic choice. The contest arguably helps him do that: It’s gross, no one onstage appears to be enjoying themselves, and the sheer volume of food consumed inevitably calls attention to how unhealthy it’d be to eat this way even semi-regularly. A prominent event that decouples binge eating from pleasure probably doesn’t make things better but I doubt it makes them worse.
Via Breitbart TV, here’s the nanny-in-chief caught in a rare endearing moment.