HE dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot. ...This does seem to support Megan McArdle's theory that elites who profess concern over the supposed obesity epidemic are really just projecting their own eating disorders onto the masses.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has become New York City’s nutritional nag, banning the use of trans fats, forcing chain restaurants to post calorie counts and exhorting diners to consume less salt. Now he is at it again, directing his wrath at sugary drinks in a new series of arresting advertisements that ask subway riders: “Are you pouring on the pounds?”
But an examination of what enters the mayoral mouth reveals that Mr. Bloomberg is an omnivore with his own glaring indulgences, many of them at odds with his own policies. And he struggles mightily to restrain his appetite. ...
[H]e is obsessed with his weight — so much so that the sight of an unflattering photo of himself can trigger weeks of intense dieting and crankiness, according to friends and aides. ...
Under his watch, the city has declared sodium an enemy, asking restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily cut the salt in their dishes by 20 percent or more, and encouraging diners to “shake the habit” by asking waiters for food without added salt.
But Mr. Bloomberg, 67, likes his popcorn so salty that it burns others’ lips. (At Gracie Mansion, the cooks deliver it to him with a salt shaker.) He sprinkles so much salt on his morning bagel “that it’s like a pretzel,” said the manager at Viand, a Greek diner near Mr. Bloomberg’s Upper East Side town house.
Not even pizza is spared a coat of sodium. When the mayor sat down to eat a slice at Denino’s Pizzeria Tavern on Staten Island recently, this reporter spotted him applying six dashes of salt to it.
A health tip sheet from the mayor’s office tells New Yorkers to “drink smart” by choosing water, even though Mr. Bloomberg has a three- to four-cup-a-day coffee habit.
“I can count on two hands the number of times I have seen him drink water,” said one dining companion ...
On the other hand, I find it a little disturbing that the Bloomberg piece is even considered a news story. It reminds me of how people love to point out that Al Gore and Thomas Friedman don't do the best job of minimizing their own carbon emissions. But how does that undermine their ideas about what's in store for the planet? Whether you agree or disagree with their views on climate change, their personal habits are a distraction from the real issues.
We have clashing expectations for politicians. It's politically poisonous for them to show any enthusiasm for arugula, endives, or dijon mustard, yet they're not supposed to eat too much fast food. The article is illustrated with a photo of Bloomberg eating a slice of cheese pizza (part of a whole "slideshow" of Bloomberg eating food), but people would be more critical if the mayor of NYC didn't go around eating pizza. If he had an impeccably healthy diet, people would criticize him for being a fanatical health nut trying to impose his personal regimen on the whole city.
The Bloomberg article is currently one of the "most blogged" and "most emailed" NYT articles. Of course, part of why so many people are talking about it is that it's just funny, and it lets bloggers use headings like: "Bloomberg to NYC: 'Stop Eating All My Salt.'" But are people truly concerned about Bloomberg's hypocrisy?
I suspect we're quietly gleeful at the chance to see our elected officials show that they're flawed, human, impetuous. It might not be far off from what happened to Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, et al. For some reason, we're vaguely titillated by the idea of a politician who's unable to resist temptation.