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Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Or so I've heard. Honest Abe, patron saint of my home state, repeated it in a speech in 1854 when he was a mere congressman, not much more than a decade before he was martyred and joined the immortals.

Adorable Deplorables

Foolishly, I'm going to tread where few angels would tread, and I doubt I'll be able to tread softly enough not to anger some people. This particular rush to foolhardy opinionating was prompted by a couple I saw in the supermarket a few hours ago, both of them in their early 50s, both obese. The person I assumed to be the wife wore a pink T-shirt emblazoned with the words "ADORABLE DEPLORABLE." That shirt and that slogan wouldn't have flattered anyone, but it was an especially misguided fashion and/or political statement for that particular lady to wrap herself in.

The fact that I brought up the politically incorrect matter of that couple's weight is the heavy treading here. "Fat shaming" is a thing now, and we're not supposed to do it, of course. But the fact that there are so many overweight and morbidly obese people in this country is a serious matter for both individuals and for our nation. And though it is possible for fat folk to be "adorable" in a range of ways, obese people whose midriffs are spilling over the waistbands of their slacks or shorts are not generally found to be "adorable" for that reason alone. Nor are grossly fat people who have become so overburdened by their weight that they must ride motorized carts in order to buy groceries usually deemed "adorable" for those particular reasons.

The fact that there are so many overweight and morbidly obese people in this country is a serious matter for both individuals and for our nation.

Those millions of seriously overweight people are shortening their lives, of course, and diminishing the quality of the lives they have. I see people in their early 20s who can't move as well as I can at 70-something, and when I see them, it makes me sad to know that the mobility of youth is being denied them, the ease of kinetic motion that so many of us took for granted when we were young, but now miss. Running without getting winded, bounding up from a crouch, jumping over obstacles: all part of the joy of youth stolen from young people by obesity. Nor do I blame all those overweight young people, necessarily, for their obesity or the sacrifice of one of the defining qualities of youth. The food additives in our overly-processed food goes a long way to explaining the obesity epidemic that has redrawn the image of Americans in ways that are truly deplorable. We no longer look like a nation of active, can-do Yankees, alas. We mostly look gluttonous, slothful, sloppy, and often swinish. And we never look more deplorable than when we wolfing down too many calories of super-sized fast food while offering disrespect for the much leaner Mexicans and other foreigners in our fields and slaughterhouses who are harvesting that food for people who won't be paid enough to harvest it for themselves, even if their fitness allowed them to do the work.

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Now we have a "leader" who is significantly overweight, a guy who attracted the unwavering support of so many people Hillary Clinton labeled as a "basket of deplorables." They were deplorable not because of excess avoirdupois, but because they expressed or embodied so many unkind, mean, un-Christian, and ugly attitudes. It was hard to find anything "adorable" about people who could support a presidential candidate who made fun of disabled people, who lied so consistently, who had such piggish attitudes toward women, who spread so much venom, hatred, and division. Since he took office, Trump's behavior has exhibited even greater degrees of ugliness, ineptitude, immaturity, incompetence, and even possible treason.

The statement that woman made by wearing that "Adorable Deplorable" shirt couldn't have been more unflattering. She was proclaiming her unwillingness to learn from what was an increasingly obvious mistake in judgment. That mistake has put her own future health care in jeopardy, and her weight guarantees she will need expensive medical care in days to come, for diabetes, heart disease, or a range of weight-related health issues.

What makes this woman unadorable (and oh-so-deplorable) is not her weight, however. It is the underlying support people like her lend to denying healthcare to some 23 million of their fellow citizens. The bitter irony—yet to be realized by most of these deplorables—is that they are themselves likely to be the first victims of the Trump/Ryan/Republican healthcare scheme which promises to be a big tax bonanza for the richest Americans, and a colossal and even fatal fiasco for people who thought they were somehow exempt from the suffering they were so blithely willing to visit on millions of others.

Jaime O'Neill

jaime oneill