This week, Congress set into motion what will be the biggest improvement in childhood nutrition in decades.The House just passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, providing $4.5 billion over 10 years to improve the quality of food served in schools, remove junk food from school cafeterias and support healthy exercise habits. Previously this year, the Senate unanimously passed its legislative counterpart with endorsements from food, beverage and grocery businesses, trade groups, health advocates and faith-based organizations.
Mission: Readiness, a group of over 100 retired military generals and admirals, played a lead role with other groups in the bill's passage. The Speaker of the House, the House Majority Leader, and the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee all cited their reports on the House floor as a primary reason to pass the bill. Mission: Readiness' documents stated that one quarter of all young American adults are currently too overweight to enlist in the military -- the largest cause of ineligibility.
This is a huge win for the health and well being of America's children. We all owe thanks to these retired admirals and generals for taking on this important cause.
However, on the basis of last week's headlines, there is one person who we would actually expect NOT to be so grateful -- and that would be Sarah Palin. Remember her widely condemned pronouncement that First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy eating and fitness campaign for youth was overstepping by the government? Palin ludicrously criticized Mrs. Obama's program by stating, "...instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back."
It would be fun to see if Palin still has such a hard time with this healthy lifestyle campaign now that it's not just being promoted, but actually enacted into legislation with the support of her own fellow conservatives and our nation's most prominent and respected military leaders - people who she admires and respects. Because, honestly, it IS astonishing that anyone other than perhaps a Cheeto manufacturer would have a problem with the very wholesome and sensible concept of encouraging healthier eating and increased physical activity for children.
My hunch is that, in all reality, Palin's attack had very little to do with an aversion to something as innocuous as the government encouraging proper diets and exercise for kids, but rather was due to something altogether different -- simply that the program was being promoted by First Lady Mrs. Obama. Always looking for an opportunity to criticize the current Administration, Palin went for it with gusto. Unfortunately, this time, it just didn't stick. Even harsh critics of the Obamas thought Palin was off target with this one. What is particularly sad though, is if her motive really was simply to undermine the Administration, it would show that she is willing to publicly condemn good policy all for the chance to attack a political rival.
So I, for one, will be curious in the coming days to see if we hear any more condemnations emanating from Palin now that this landmark bill has passed. If not...it is possible that we just might have called her bluff.