Men's Fitness Ranks Obama with Olympic Athletes in '25 Fittest' List

May 19th, 2008 6:30 PM

Men's Fitness coverHey, did you know that Barack Obama is young and energetic? Also, he's a real go-getter with a drive to win. Did I mention that he's young? That's the underlying message of lowered expectations and hipness from the June/July Men's Fitness article, "25 Fittest Guys In America." MF lumped Obama in with elite athletes, such as an Olympic boxer, an Ironman triathlete, three mixed martial artists and several professional sports stars in its annual list of “25 Fittest Men in America.”

MF revealed that Obama was “a bit of a baller” in his youth and stays in tip-top shape with hotel weight machines or a “brisk” 45-minute run as well as “mostly” avoiding fatty foods. Wow. That sounds like a brutal regimen of moderate daily exercise and a reasonable diet. How does he do it? What, no kudos for eating his vegetables or walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator? Obama was even credited for giving up smoking, which he didn't exactly do.

MF's article may be stealth campaigning, but it still managed to raise the hopes of schlubs everywhere by including Obama on a “fit" list with top-ranked athletes (bold mine):

Barack Obama screencapture from Men's Fitness .pdf | NewsBusters.orgIt takes a certain stamina to endure months of 16-hour days in pursuit of the land’s highest office. Obama is not the first politician dedicated to fitness, but the Illinois senator starts every day with a morning work-out, whether it’s machines at the hotel gym or a brisk 45-minute run. He’s also quit smoking. Obama can be excused for enjoying the occasional state-fair corn dog because he mostly stays away from fatty foods. He’s also, as we’ve seen, a bit of a baller. Nicknamed “Barry O’Bomber” for his jump shot, the for-mer high school hoopster now releases stress during pickup games—including one on every primary day. “He’s wiry-looking but actually pretty strong,” former Duke player and Obama staffer Reggie Love has said. “And he hates losing. He plays hard.” Now that we know.

What a rigorous program.

MF really does deserve recognition for finally celebrating the kind of fitness mediocrity that almost anyone can attain.

Obama's inclusion was clearly not because Obama is really one of the 25 fittest guys in America or even one of the fittest guys on that list. Obama is on there because he is a popular, young Democratic nominee for president (and will likely sell magazines).

Once Bill Clinton blew his saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” politicking changed forever. That appearance ushered in the era of “asymmetrical” campaigning. Candidates now book comedy shows as readily as they book traditional Sunday morning punditry or scarf down cheesesteaks in local diners.

Politicians now regularly try to reach voters through non-traditional ways, such as comedy or trendy magazines. That's why Bill Clinton reportedly strongarmed GQ into naming him 2007's man of the year and Vogue and GQ featured Obama on their covers. Even John McCain was on "Saturday Night Live." That kind of publicity doesn't seem like overt campaigning yet it registers with the public in ways that a stump speech cannot. When done right, it bypasses the public's b.s. filter and scores a direct hit without the usual political baggage.

Eventually, the public will adjust and recognize this stealth campaigning for what it is. What's unclear is how many "SNL" skits and bogus Men's Fitness rankings it will take.

Cover image: Men's Fitness

Lynn welcomes tips and complaints. Email her at tvisgoodforyou2—at-yahoo-dot-com