We Have a Germaphobe in the White House

Here’s why, even during a pandemic, that’s not a good thing.

There are some things we knew about Donald Trump since before he was elected that have pretty much been forgotten. But I’ve been reminded of them while we watch him attempt to lead the national response to a pandemic.

Apparently Trump has always been a germaphobe. As such, some of the recommendations from public health experts about dealing with coronavirus should come naturally to him. For example, in The Art of the Comeback, he said that “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.” That is why he referred to the custom of handshaking as “one of the curses of American society.” His distaste for handshaking came up again during the Ebola crisis.

We don’t know how often Trump washes his hands these days, but the whole idea of avoiding handshakes went out the window a while ago.

Most bizarrely, Trump uses his germaphobia to justify his love of fast foods.

His simplistic palate is a function of his desire for cleanliness. “One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s,” he explained to CNN’s Anderson Cooper earlier this year. “I’m a very clean person. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe someplace that you have no idea where the food’s coming from. It’s a certain standard.”

That helps explain things like this.

According to Michael Wolff, Trump’s love of McDonalds is also rooted in another phobia.

Trump “had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade,” Wolff reports.

When it comes to unhealthy habits, even more disturbing than his love of fast food is Trump’s belief that exercise will kill you. In their book Trump Revealed, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher wrote that “Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”

When these bizarre beliefs were first reported, it was done in a lighthearted manner because back then, no one really believed that he would become president. There is still a bit of catharsis in pointing and laughing at the idiot who occupies the Oval Office.

But right now things are deadly serious. The man who is currently leading our national response to a pandemic has a long history of dreaming up outlandish theories to justify his behavior. We’ve certainly seen that happen once or twice over the last three years, haven’t we?

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.