On Sunday, presidential advisor (and presidential daughter) Ivanka Trump tried to promote healthy lifestyles for kids on her Twitter.
We need to promote healthy lifestyles for America’s youth. In a recent survey, 9.5 million U.S. children reported that they did NOT once participate in any of over 100 sports or activities listed. #YouthSports @AspenInstitute— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) April 8, 2018
Fair enough. Kids should run around more, put down the video game controllers and lay off the Twinkies. There's nothing wrong with that, right?
Well....retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling took issue with her tweet, mostly because he thinks the White House (where Ivanka works) isn't doing its job when it comes to supporting the healthy lifestyle programs that already exist.
Ummm...there’s this thing called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition. Been around 60 years. Used to have 25 appointees...I was one of them. @MichelleObama helped & generated momentum in this area. No one is on the Council now. @FitnessGov. Check it out. https://t.co/R6xh1n0Qi7— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) April 8, 2018
Hertling served in the Army for 37 years and retired as the Commanding General, US Army Europe and Seventh Army. He took a special interest in training, revising the Army's Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills while he commanded Initial Military Training (IMT) from 2009 to 2011. As a civilian, he's taken a job as security, intelligence and terrorism analyst for CNN, so you might have seen him on television from time to time.
The issue is obviously one that means a lot to Hertling, because he got in one last dig at the White House. He suggested that Ivanka research the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition with the Department of Health & Human Services, a department that's endured its own controversy. Trump's original HHS secretary resigned after getting called out for his free-spending ways and his replacement, former prescription drug industry executive Alex Azar, has yet to make an impact in the post.
One more thing...it falls under @HHSGov Ask their Secretary...oh, never mind.— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) April 8, 2018
That's cold. Still, most of us grew up with programs promoted by the President's Council. Old folks will remember doing classroom calisthenics while listening to the "Chicken Fat" song in the '60s and slightly younger readers will remember the PSAs featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the '90s. And that's not counting the emphasis on exercise and healthy eating from the most recent First Lady. There's a tradition of government support for active lifestyles.
Was Lt. Gen. Hertling right to call out Ivanka? Since she has the president's ear, should she work on backing up the sentiment with some concrete actions? Will promoting exercise and healthy lifestyle improve the quality of the next generation of military recruits? Or is it time for the government to stop telling us what to eat and how to spend our free time? Should we commit to staffing the President's Council or just shut it down altogether?