We know what average Americans think of politicians – but what do politicians think of us, the hoi poloi?

We know what average Americans think of politicians – but what do politicians think of us, the hoi poloi?

One clue is that numerous politicos are a little touchy about being touched by the masses. It turns out that many who make a living gladhanding really aren’t even pleased about shaking our hands. Germs, you know.

Enjoying Hightower? How about a weekly email that gives you the full scoop?

For example, at an October fundraiser in Topeka, the Republican faithful lined up to shake hands with the headliner, Dick Cheney. Before getting to the Veep, however, they had to get past a lady standing adjacent to Cheney with a big bottle of Purell, a hand sanitzer that promises to kill “99.99% of most common germs.” To get their grip-and-grin with the honoree, each person first had to accept a squirt of the goop to purify their hands! Then, after the meet-and-greet was over, Cheney ducked backstage and rubbed a generous dollop of the antiseptic into his own hands, cleansing himself of the human contact he had just endured.

The vice president is not alone in this act of political prissiness. “Good stuff,” raved George W as he touted the purifying qualities of Purell. Bill Clinton also is a user, as is Senator Barack Obama. And Senator John McCain says, “I use it all the time. I carry it with me in my briefcase.”

Not everyone believes in the shake-and-scrub routine, however. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico bluntly says: “It’s condescending to the voters.” Richardson, who once shook a record 13,392 hands at the state fair without using a drop of Purell, adds that “The great part about politics is that you’re touching humanity.”

This is Jim Hightower saying… I’m with Bill on this. During my own politicking period, my right hand often reeked of various colognes, barbecue sauce, and spilt beer – but to use a sanitzer seems to me a bit like ballplayers using performance-enhancing steroids. If you’re afraid of people’s germs – find a new game.

“THE 2006 CAMPAIGN; In Clean Politics, Flesh Is Pressed, Then Sanitized,” The New York Times, October 28, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

Never miss a word from Hightower– sign up today:

Send this to a friend