All the President’s polyps

Pub date August 7, 2007

Last week’s joke was that while Dick Cheney was in the hospital, having the tires on his pacemaker rotated, he temporarily transferred the powers of the presidency to George W. Bush. This is clever, but Mr. Bigdee’s imperial vice presidency is otherwise no laughing matter. Bush himself, meanwhile, having failed as a warlord, seems to be donning the mantle of laughingstock. Recently his intestinal polyps were much in the news. Not since Ronald Reagan was eating TV dinners in the White House has the public been favored with such detailed reports about the president’s bowels.

Bush’s bumper crop of precancerous growths can’t really come as a surprise to anyone who’s read former White House chef Walter Scheib’s recent book, White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen. The Bush family, Scheib tells us, is big on things like grilled beef, bologna sandwiches on white bread with Miracle Whip, and other such hearty, tasty, macho stuff that’s perfectly safe to eat — once a year. But when you fill your gut every day with red meat and fat and other industrially processed crud, you can expect trouble down the line at some point, no matter how conscientiously you pedal around on your mountain bike.

Memo to the Bushes: eat a fucking pluot! Or a black plum, if pluots make you squirm or you can’t pronounce the word. Have some cantaloupe — they’re in season, they’re fabulous and cheap, they have orange flesh, and orange flesh is good for you. Blueberries: who doesn’t like these? And they’re all over markets these days. Blueberries are dark, and dark-fleshed fruits and vegetables are good for you. Blackberries are coming into season, and they can be foraged even in the middle of cities. Good for you. Get it?

While I can’t say I’m passionately sympathetic to the physical troubles of our dear leaders — a pair of oafs whose foul-ups will take generations to remedy, and if they both resigned tomorrow for health reasons, who would weep? — but their health woes do help remind us that such woes are largely a matter of personal dietary choice. Heart disease and intestinal polyps tending toward cancer don’t just happen; they aren’t just a matter of bad luck. Eating is destiny, so … choose wisely, eat well, live long, and prosper.

Paul Reidinger