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The Michelle Obama Weight Debate

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An awful lot has been written about Michelle Obama's push for better foods in schools, more recess in schools, more exercise in schools and an overall push for intelligence in exercise and food consumption that will lead to healthier lives for an awful lot of folk. And less insurance cost for all of us. (Note: I'm a smoker, so I'm a bad guy here.)

The debate is silly. When I was a kid, John F. Kennedy, soundly disliked in my home, took Dwight D. Eisenhower's Council on Fitness to the next level, and Johnson did the same, and millions of high school kids had to participate in a physical fitness program that had us running a mile, sprinting 100 yards, climbing ropes and peg boards, doing sit-up and push-ups and so forth. I thought it was fantastic, and even my father, who didn't like either Kennedy or Johnson, approved of that government intrusion into our lives.

So Michelle Obama's pushing for better foods in schools than what my sons and daughter have been offered--corn dogs/pizza/breaded fried chicken nuggets (I made them nearly every lunch they ever had just to keep them away from that crap)--and more exercise to begin to control childhood obesity is hardly something new from a resident of the White House.

But, say so many writing on boards all over the net: She's just the wife! No one elected her!

Absolutely. But Laura Bush's reading program came from someone who wasn't elected and that didn't seem to cause such a stir.

If one really wants to look at a First Lady who pushed her own agenda, one need only look at Nancy Reagan and her Just Say No (to drugs) effort. That effort led to the now-debunked DARE program in schools--which we saw actually caused a serious rise in youthful drug experimentation. It also led, by extension, to the demonization of those who didn't Just Say No, which produced the Three-Strikes Yer Out! sentences, a refusal to make needle-enchange programs available nationally--a calamitous error, gave the Feds the public backing they needed to implement mandatory-minimum sentencing, which caused the jail population to swell to the point where the insidious privatized prisons became the norm... And generally messed up the lives of millions of people who wound up with felony convictions and long prison sentences for absolutely no societal good.

I railed against Reagan then and for years and still rail against privatized-prisons and their lobbying arms and the demonization of non-violent drug users.

But I see more vitriol about Michelle Obama pushing veggies on school kids and encouraging them to play outside each day than I ever did about Nancy Reagan effectively hijacking the criminal justice system.