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TAUBE: Obama’s broccoli-gate
Is the snacker-in-chief fibbing over his favorite food?
Last week, Michelle Obama hosted her second Kids’ State Dinner at the White House. A total of 54 children and their parents were invited after winning the first lady’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest.
During this upbeat event to promote healthy eating and lifestyle choices, her husband unexpectedly showed up. As did President Obama’s ever-trusty podium (and teleprompter, one suspects) so that he would have a platform for this, um, unscheduled appearance.
One of the children decided to ask Mr. Obama what his favorite food was. It was a fair question to ask, and it certainly deserved an honest answer.
Now, the nation’s leader could have picked anything under the sun. For example, a porterhouse steak, steamed lobster, macaroni and cheese, chicken Parmesan or even pulled-pork sandwiches.
What do you think he chose? Broccoli.
Really, Mr. President? Who in their right mind would pick broccoli, and say it with a straight face? You’ve got to be kidding us.
This is the same president who has reportedly sent out his staff for take-out food like pizza and burgers for late-night political sessions at the White House. There are also photos and videos of him placing orders at fast food joints like Five Guys — where the mere sight or mention of broccoli could be a sign of the coming Apocalypse. And while no one is insinuating that he has former President Bill Clinton’s notorious affection for junk food, Mr. Obama is hardly a model of health and nutritious meals.
As an aside, I wonder if this wasn’t a slight partisan jab at a comment made by President George H.W. Bush. In 1990, Mr. Bush banned broccoli from being served on Air Force One. As he famously quipped at a news conference, “I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” (For the record, Mr. Bush mentioned that his wife Barbara “loves broccoli.”)
Are Democrats pro-broccoli and Republicans anti-broccoli? Will this affect the all-important broccoli vote before the 2016 presidential election? Beats me, but I’m sure that some intrepid polling firm is already on the case.
All kidding aside, it’s fine that the White House wants our children to eat healthy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Obama supporting this type of initiative. That being said, it’s an incredibly foolish communications strategy to help achieve this important goal.
There’s an even bigger concern when it comes to, shall we say, Broccoli-gate.
It’s been difficult for most Republicans, and quite a few Americans, to believe anything this president has told us. Even though he’s won two presidential elections, Mr. Obama is really not trusted when it comes to his political leanings, economic positions and foreign policy matters. If we can’t even trust him when it comes to describing his favorite food, that’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
Certainly, I’m aware that Mrs. Obama told Olivier Knox of Yahoo News in February, “We are a big broccoli household. It is the one vegetable that my children will eat without creating chaos and havoc. There’s never quite clear harmony at the dinner table over the vegetables, but broccoli is a unifier in our household.” That being said, keep in mind the first lady only spoke of her children — and didn’t mention that it was their favorite food.
I obviously understand the president was speaking in front of people who largely believe in trying to eat healthier foods, including vegetables. Even so, the fact that this comment was made at a gathering for young, impressionable children leads me to believe his answer was more politically charged than personally motivated. Does Mr. Obama truly think children are going to start asking their parents for more broccoli on their dinner plates because the leader of the free world supposedly eats this item like there’s no tomorrow?
Before we start canonizing Mr. Obama as the nation’s first “veggie president,” maybe we should reflect on his broccoli-boosting and whether he truly prays at the altar of the green vegetable gods. There are too many burgers and pizza slices in this man’s diet that can’t be ignored with a simple snap of the fingers.
Hence, I’m tempted to ask my own question. Just between us, Mr. President — what really is your favorite food?
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a contributor to The Washington Times.
By Brahma Chellaney
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