OH, PLEASE: All politicians use hand sanitizer all the time. And they should. In her campaign book, Mary Cheney has a lengthy discussion of the importance of hand sanitizer on the campaign trail. Excerpt:
The truth is, all candidates use it -- or suffer the consequences. When Wesley Clark entered the 2004 presidential race, he caught a cold, lost his voice, and was unable to campaign for several days. Some people speculated that the pace of a national campaign had knocked the former NATO comander off the campaign trail. I knew it was because he hadn't learned about hand sanitizer. National candidates shake hundreds, if not thousands, of hands every day. They will get sick unless they wash their hands early and often.
Presidents, too. (I believe we talked about this in our podcast interview with Mary Cheney, as well.) Personally, I agree with Donald Trump: Handshaking is unsanitary, and we should replace it with something else. Whenever we go to the AALS "meat market" recruitment conference -- where job candidates from all over the country meet with recruiters from law schools all over the country right at the beginning of cold-and-flu season, and where attendance is so important that people will drag themselves there unless they're candidates for the ICU -- most of us wind up with some creeping crud afterward. Next time, I'm taking a big pump-bottle of Purell.
Anyone who's offended by this sanitary precaution will be sentenced to crawling through the tot-tunnels at Chuck E. Cheese, which feature a concentration of microbes that makes North Korean biowar labs look tame.
UPDATE: Ace: "I'm wondering how quickly Bush jumped into an intense bactericidal ultraviolet light-chamber after shaking my hand."
I don't know about Bush, but when I shook Ace's hand I was using a bionic arm for safety. Apparently it was quite convincing.
Agreed that handshaking en masse is a bad idea. And Obama is a foole if he does not use sanitizer, too. My anecdote: In a previous incarnation, I spend two years photographing families for church directories. (You probably know the deal: the Church gets a free photo directory in exchange for providing a chance to sell the portraits to the membership.) Real cookie-cutter stuff. Five families an hour. Get the kids off their deathbeds to have their likeness made one last time. "Isn't the little [disease factory] soooo cute?" I was sick the whole two years. And it was a pre-sanitizer age.
More recently, I'm convinced that I suffer many fewer colds now that the trucking industry has evolved from a reliance on public phones to communication via satellite and cell technology.
Just don't shake a politician's hand. You don't know where it's been.