Politicking Across the (Contami)Nation

You know it’s getting late in the election season and the media is losing energy and originality when one of the nation’s preeminent newspapers, the New York Times, decides to cover not just the politicians but the “parasites� with whom they come in contact. No, I’m not speaking of the various lobbyists and other influence peddlers who wish to curry (i.e., purchase) the favor of current or potentially future members of the political establishment. I’m speaking of actual parasites, as well as their microbial brethren. Mark Leibovich offers what turns out to be an interesting article on the unseen perils of pressing flesh with the populace:

In Clean Politics, Flesh Is Pressed, Then Sanitized

Campaigns are filthy. Not only in terms of last-minute smears and dirty tricks. But also as in germs, parasites and all the bacterial unpleasantness that is spread around through so much glad-handing and flesh-pressing.

“You can’t always get to a sink to wash your hands,� said Anne Ryun, wife of Representative Jim Ryun, Republican of Kansas.

Hands would be the untidy appendages that transmit infectious disease.

Like so many other people involved in politics these days, Mrs. Ryun has become obsessive about using hand sanitizer and ensuring that others do, too. She squirted Purell, the antiseptic goop of choice on the stump and self-proclaimed killer of “99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness,� on people lined up to meet Vice President Dick Cheney this month at a fund-raiser in Topeka.

When Mr. Cheney was done meeting and greeting, he, too, rubbed his hands vigorously with the stuff, dispensed in dollops by an aide when the vice president was out of public view.

That has become routine in this peak season of handshaking, practiced by everyone from the most powerful leaders to the lowliest hopefuls. Politics is personal at all levels, and germs do not discriminate. Like chicken dinners and lobbyists, they afflict Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be difficult to find an entourage that does not have at least one aide packing Purell.

Some people find that unseemly in itself.

“It’s condescending to the voters,� said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat.

A fervent nonuser of hand sanitizer, Mr. Richardson holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for shaking the most hands over an eight-hour period (13,392, at the New Mexico State Fair in 2002).

Indeed, what message does it send when politicians, the putative leaders in a government by the people, for the people, feel compelled to wipe off the residues of said people immediately after meeting them?

“The great part about politics is that you’re touching humanity,� Mr. Richardson said. “You’re going to collect bacteria just by existing.� [full text]

And has there ever been a greater collection of bacteria than the current political establishment? Just the thought of coming into contact with any of them makes me want to dunk myself in Purell. Now, if only they could make a cleanser that politicians could apply to their oft-compromised morality and honesty. Although, if such a product were applied, I imagine the outcome would look something like this:

Dick Cheney melts after exposure to moral antiseptic

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2 responses

  1. And catching a cold is not just catching a cold — it could lead to…Alzheimer’s? That’s what they’re saying research indicates in this article:

    Daily Mail UK Article

    But perhaps you will try to protect yourself from illness by getting the flu vaccine, except…there’s no good evidence to suggest it works.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/healthmain.html?in_article_id=412145&in_page_id=1774

    Guess it’s fair to say I’m happy to be alive on this blustery fall day.

  2. so maybe when Dick is talking about dunking people in water he is really just concerned about their well being and cleanliness

    after all, it is next to godliness.

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