[Originally published at Corrente.]
Oddly, or not, the forthcoming Times article treats Huckabee's weight loss uncritically. But if The God Of His Choice put Huckabee first in the polls, why didn't God just staple Huckabee's stomach for him? Or is it possible there was a less divine form of intervention, from a surgeon with a staple gun?
From the wonderful Arkansas Times, some disturbing questions:
An obscure blog raises one of the most enduring Arkansas urban legends -- that Mike Huckabee was assisted by some form of surgery in his weight loss, if not a gastric bypass procedure, perhaps the less invasive lapband. The long post includes a quote I'd never seen before from his press secretary Alice Stewart (emphasis supplied):
"Even if Governor Huckabee had lost weight by having bariatric surgery, there would be no shame in that," says Alice Stewart, press secretary for the Mike Huckabee Exploratory Committee. "[But the] fact is that the governor’s weight loss program was very well documented by the media. [Well, that's sorted, then!] Steve Barnes of Time Magazine [Doesn't Joe Klein work, or type, there?] interviewed the governor as well as his doctors."
Anyway, this is but a supposition based on abundant circumstantial evidence, including the almost-unheard-of-success (scientific data supplied) of maintaining weight loss from diet programs vs. surgical intervention. Given the nature of the Internet -- and the fact that a reporter from a major national publication asked me about this very topic in a phone call yesterday -- I'm guessing we may be near a categorical answer to this long lingering folklore.
Perhaps, too, this would be an occasion to ask the governor about another lingering weight question. In an earlier dramatic, and unsuccessful, weight loss, did he use the prescription fen-phen drug combination or its equivalent (another long-standing bit of Huckabee folklore) that was subsequently found to cause heart damage in many users? Was he examined? Did he file a claim in the massive class action lawsuit over the drug?
Will the governor, as Republican presidential nominee, release complete medical records?
When feral pigs fly, he will.
The obscure blog (one Plutarch) adduces a ton of, admittedly, circumstantial evidence. There's a lot of terrific stuff, but this is the data point that made me go "Hmmmm"...
All diagnosis starts with the medical history the patient provides. Huckabee denies surgery and gives a history of diet/exercise, but is a vague historian. His weight loss performance is world class; he lost 75 lbs, 0.4 lbs. per day, for 6 months. Huckabee attributes his amazing success, after multiple diet failures, to his enrollment in the University of Arkansas Medical Center (UAMS) Weight Control Program, directed by endocrinologist Dr. Philip Kern. The UAMS program involves an initial liquid diet, followed by gradual reintroduction of a normal but caloric restricted diet. Huckabee states he was enrolled in the program, but provides no details of his experience. You’d expect his "How I did it" diet book to divulge a helpful diet technique or two—e.g. estimation of calories consumed and expended. But no, the book is a compilation of homilies bereft of detail, almost as if it was someone else that was enduring a daily deficit of 1400 calories.
Perhaps the UAMS program could fill in the detail? No, the UAMS program is even less specific than Huckabee. The Weight Control Program website has a few expired links to Huckabee media features, but no account from UAMS. Dr. Kern says little, aside from participating in some of Huckabee’s media events, praising Huckabee as a model patient and noting that his results were highly atypical for the program.
Huckabee has certainly been appreciative of Dr. Kern’s efforts. In 2007, Governor Huckabee allocated $1 million in Arkansas general funds to endow the Dr. Philip Kern Chair at UAMS.
Here's another data point:
In March 2005, Huckabee had surgery to repair a Spigelian hernia of the abdominal wall. ... In contrast to the rarity of Spigelian hernias, post bariatric complications requiring surgery are very common, especially incisional (or ventral) hernia repair. Overall, 15% of bariatric [stomach stapling] patients will require surgery for a incisional hernia in the first three years ... A Huckabee disclosure of an incisional hernia operation would be tantamount to admittance of previous bariatric surgery. ... The Baptist Health Hospital at which the Spigelian hernia repair was performed is Arkansas’ only Bariatric Center of Excellence, and was performed by a surgeon whose partner is a leading Arkansas bariatric surgeon.
And the "on the sly" part:
If Huckabee were to have had gastric bypass surgery, he would have required opportunity to disappear from public view during a brief hospitalization and recovery. One such opportunity is evident in public notices in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Huckabee dates the onset of his weight loss to June 2003. In 2003, Huckabee attended the Council of State Governments’ spring meeting, held May 15-18, in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on May 21 that Governor Huckabee was extending the trip to include a personal vacation with an indeterminate return date, adding portentously:
"The governor chooses for his office not to disclose all of his travel plans"
This absence must have been unusual, because in his 10 years as Governor, this is the only article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette archive that refers directly to Huckabee’s vacation plans.
Huckabee, thus, had the opportunity to leave the Virgin Islands on Sunday, May 18, for any destination (including Arkansas), where he could have had bariatric surgery on Monday, May 19, followed by several days of hospitalization and recuperation. However, former Arkansas Governor Frank White died unexpectedly Wednesday, May 21, which necessitated Huckabee’s public return on Thursday. Huckabee attended White’s lying in State in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday and spoke at the funeral on Saturday, May 24. The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reports no Huckabee appearances the subsequent week until addressing high school students Saturday May 31st, except for Memorial Day services Monday, May 26,. On June 1, Huckabee attended a conference in Mississippi.
With laparscopic bariatric surgery on Monday May 19, Huckabee is likely to have been discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, the average hospital length of stay for such surgery being 2.5 days. Gov. White’s death necessitated public appearances on Friday and Saturday. Laparoscopic surgery patients ambulate the day of the procedure and recover rapidly, so by Friday, Huckabee would have been able to appear in public without noticeable difficulty.
The site also includes some lovely before and after pictures -- but be sure to put down your coffee!
NOTE Frankly, I'd rather somebody found out what Hucklebee's position is on sexual abuse by Southern Baptist pastors, since Huckerbee is, after all, ordained in that denomination. But this will to do go on with.
And I'd settle for the release of Huckabee's medical records. I mean, he was planning to do that, right?
Along with his sermons?