September 14th, 2007
08:35 AM ET
8 years ago

Gravel to America: You're 'fatter and dumber'

Gravel had some frank words for the American people Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Trying to be a "friend" to the American people, Democratic White House hopeful Mike Gravel gave his honest assessment to potential voters during an online Democratic candidate forum Thursday.

"I'm prepared to tell you that Americans are getting fatter and dumber," the former Alaska senator told comedian Bill Maher, one of the debate's moderators. "I have no problem saying that."

Maher asked a question to each of the eight Democratic candidates during the forum, which was sponsored by Slate, Yahoo! and the Huffington Post.

Maher told Gravel that obesity rates are up and reading levels are down and added that the "definition of a friend is someone who tells you the truth." Gravel replied that he was willing to be honest with the American people.

"I've also said that Americans are going to get the government they deserve," Gravel said. "And so if things are going bad, just remember who put these people in power."

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Mike Gravel
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. peter,miami,florida

    ofcourse not ready for a president who will bother me with what he says without control!

    September 13, 2007 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  2. m.m. - st louis, mo.

    I HAVE noticed in the past few years that in general people are slipping in their spelling skill level. As far as the "fat " part of Gravel's comment- think about your mom and grandmother; there are LOTS more fat people now than say, twenty years ago. And I m talking fairly young (aged late 20s to 40s) . When you were growing up , think how many women and men were overweight... not many. Just go any mall in America and you will see moms with strollers. For every ten moms you see, count how many are obviously overweight. I rest my case.

    September 13, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  3. Gary Denson

    The only Americans who are getting fatter and dumber is our congress and corporate CEOs. I think they should all be tested in math and science ability,and if the dont measure up cut their pay and benefits or better yet outsource their jobs to China.

    September 13, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. Kate, Madison, WI

    Amen, Mike! We're fat, lazy, complacent slaves to convenience. No wonder most of the world is disgusted by us. Hell, I'M disgusted by us. We used to be an admirable nation. What happened? Too much soft, easy living, I think. WE'RE BETTER THAN THIS, FOLKS! People need to get up off their fat asses and DEMAND a better government! Remember, they work for US!

    September 13, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Troy, Coon Rapids, MN

    1) I find it interesting that no one here, Democrat and Republican alike, assumes THEY are in the "dumb" majority. Of course, there was a study done that showed that most below average people firmly BELIEVE they are above average.

    2) About "America Bashing"...saying that America isn't perfect isn't "bashing" anything. It's looking at things WITHOUT the child-like (and childish) tendency to assume that if you love something/someone, they never do anything Wrong. Adults realize they can be honest about things and people they love, know that there are both good and bad sides, and that doesn't diminish the love in any way. I love America, faults and all, and that means I want to see it own up to those faults and try to correct them. Be nice to see more ADULTS love our country, no?

    September 13, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. Independent Voter, TN

    All of the svelte geniuses that are posting here should take a step back and quit throwing stones at people of the opposite party. Neither party is exempt from blame in the dumbing down and fattening up of America.

    Due to the prosperity we have enjoyed (due primarily to the hard work of previous generations), we have become lazy and made to feel entitled. Until we quit expecting government to provide evrything for us, we will continue down this road and like the Roman empire, we will become but a footnote in history unless we can regain our original identity as a nation.

    We are so far from what the founding fathers envisioned. When we "celebrate" holidays like the 4th of July or Veterans Day or Labor Day or Memorial Day or Presidents Day or MLK's Birthday, how many Americans stop and truly reflect on the tangible sacrifices made for us by others. Most see it as nothing more than an extra day off from work and couldn't even tell you what we're celebrating.

    Over the past 50 years I have seen a real decline in the fabric of our nation. Parents who don't know how (or care) to raise their kids are primarily to blame, but "progressive" legislation that strives to make everything we do politically correct is also a big part of the problem.

    I fear for the future of our nation and the anger and finger pointing of all you political party lemmings is the most telling sign of why things are the way they are. No one has the courage to look in the mirror and take accountability for the mess. It's always someone else's fault. Man up. We're all partially to blame.

    Quit being mindless party zealots. you're ruining it for all of us who care more about competency than party affiliation.

    September 13, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  7. Dan, TX

    If the neoCon republicans hadn't been in control of the White House and Congress so long, we wouldn't have these problems.

    It is the neoCon republican spend, spend, spend, and bigger and bigger bureaucracy that is ruining the country.

    The republicans no child left behind and catsup vegetables that has made us dumb and fat.

    September 13, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. Aaron, Eau Claire, WI

    I totally agree with you but you can't say that in this day and age. I say that every day before I open my store. Walmart and the internet/gaming systems have made us stupid and lame in life. I hope you make it through the primaries!

    September 13, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  9. Julianne Romanello, Round Rock, TX

    It's about time that someone is willing to speak honestly to the American public about itself. It is unwise and unproductive to fail to address these important issues. Health of body and mind should be something that the body politic makes a priority. Reading John Milton's Of Education (written in 1644) would be instructive in this matter.

    September 13, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  10. Xrys, Savannah GA

    Poor Mike. He and Ron Paul are the only candidates with any integrity. I love honesty. Too bad the American people do not. Nobody wants to hear the truth. For the truth is more often than not an ugly, offensive thing.

    September 13, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. Joann, Long Beach, CA

    You get what you pay for. If we don't invest in education and we let the TV "babysit" our kids then what other result should we expect?
    As a country we spend more time watching celebrities than we do raising our kids.
    It's easy to blame the media or the internet, but no one is forcing you to watch YOUTUBE or high speed car chases all night.
    The alternatives are out there: PBS, Libraries, bookstores, symphonies, museums, national parks, cultural festivals, farmers' markets, etc. Ah, but aren't these also the first things that get cut in a budget squeeze?
    It's been pretty scary for a while, people are just starting to notice it.
    Our president (which I DID NOT VOTE FOR) is NOT smarter than a fifth-grader and they aren't as smart as they used to be.

    September 13, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  12. Drew, Appleton, Wisconsin

    Gravel knows that the average America is too busy wolfing down deep-fried cheese balls, polishing his Jet-Ski and watching American Idol to concern themselves with piddling things like democracy and our future.

    September 13, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  13. DJ, Los Angeles

    Gravel calls it as it is. I have never seen a candidate so blunt and not afraid to cause controversy.

    I agree that we get the government we deserve, also in his comment that the definition of a friend is someone who tells you the truth.

    Supersize Me was the first movie/documentary to shed light on how poorly most people eat, especially in public schools.

    September 13, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. Chuck, Ames Iowa

    Mike Gravel has a solid grip on irony. Fatter and dumber. Just what we need is a double-chinned, white-haired, past his mental prime former senator stating the obvious. We do get what we deserve.

    September 13, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. Peter, Wausau WI

    Eh, maybe his statement has some truth to it, but I'm sure American voters are going to think that it's not "politically correct" enough to make him a good candidate. That's fine, though, since Fred Thompson is going to win the 2008 election.

    September 13, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. Adrienne Elmhurst, IL

    I'm smart enough not to vote for this guy!

    September 13, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Nick; Springield, Missouri

    Good article! I completely agree with Mike Gravel: a society deserves government its elected. Especially wonderful was a passage about "fatter and dumber"! This is pure truth, just look around: see and listen.

    September 13, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  18. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    A few things: Yes, we are fatter and dumber. We are fat, happy, and oblivious, which is unlikely to change until a disaster worse than 9/11 finally wakes us up.

    And to people who think the President DIDN'T know something we didn't... You need a reality check. Not even 50 years AFTER an event when loads of declassified documents are released do we, the common people, know as much as the President did then. THAT SAID, this certainly doesn't mean the extra information justified the war. Not knowing the nature of the information makes that an illegitimate assertion.

    If it weren't such a serious problem, I'd laugh at people who think they are qualified to make international policy decisions based on the limited, filtered information they get from CNN or the internet.

    The only justifiable position we, as common people, can take is one of skeptical questioning. We don't have the most important information guys, but we can think, ask questions, and be frustrated by the fact that top-secret, sensitive information will likely never come down to us in a timely manner.

    Get over it. Or run for office.

    September 13, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  19. L. LaMonte, Columbia, SC

    He's right. I've been a registered nurse throughout the US for the last 16yrs and I can confirm that American's are getting fatter/dumber and I might add sicker for a variety of reasons. Not only because we are aging, but because we lack adequate preventative medicine or access to good medical care. Our schools are lacking funds/appropriate teacher-student ratios. Overall, we are a big, fat, stupid mess and we continue to vote for those who keep us big, fat and stupid. We are in a medical and educational crisis. God help us!!

    September 13, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  20. Khalid, Washington D.C.

    Sadly his statement is true. As Americans we have been coerced into seeking convenience. This relates to American eating habits as well the lack of desire to strive for greater intellectual ability. Instead of cooking dinner we go to the almighty golden arches. and instead of reading the book we watch the movie. By simplifying our lives we are simplifying ourselves. Hopefully as a society we can come to this realization and make the changes necessary to curb this trend. Today we have growing competition from the east and instead of working to better ourselves we are complacent and therefore lazy. when the power tables turn we will be in an unfortunate position unless we start making changes soon.

    September 13, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. Allen, Mercer Island, WA

    Gravel proves his own point by using the word "dumber" which is not a word. He should try opening a dictionary before he speaks! Maybe his comment is more appropriate for every American politician, regardless of the party. I at least agree with his point about who put the people in power.

    September 13, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  22. Terrence Thompson, Manila, Philippines

    Horray for Gavel, a breath of fresh air, to tell us Americans the truth, however uncomfortable it may feel: the future of our country is at risk if we don't swallow our pride and admit that we need to slim down and smarten up! We can not ride on the achievements of our forefathers forever.

    September 13, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  23. Quelasima, Newark NJ

    Ha! So true! I'm glad someone's finally got the guts to say it!

    September 13, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  24. Michael McKown, Burbank CA

    Truth is refreshing. Thank you, senator. You won't become president but you will leave behind a legacy worthy of emulation.

    September 13, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    America's getting dumber and fatter; what right have we to proclaim ourselves to be the greatest nation in the world?

    September 13, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
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