By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Give Richardson a hand

Bill Richardson announced today that he’s running for president. He may or may not have what it takes, but give him credit for having made his peace with bacteria.

My former Phoenix colleague Mark Leibovich explained how in a New York Times story on hand sanitizer last fall. It turned out that Richardson refuses to use the stuff. Why? Leibovich wrote:

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

A fervent nonuser of hand sanitizer, 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 the residues of said people immediately after meeting them?

“The great part about politics is that you’re touching humanity,” Richardson said. “You’re going to collect bacteria just by existing.”

I’m sorry, but that’s just strange. I hope Richardson has a strong immune system.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Not such a linchpin


Herald appeals libel ruling


  1. man who recommends steel wool

    With all that exposure to various people…and thus peoples’ illnesses…he probably DOES have a strong immune system by now.

  2. Anonymous

    If the Tufts cafeteria didn’t render him bulletproof, the habaneros at home probably gave him the constitution of an ox.

  3. Anonymous

    One nit, by refusing to use hand sanitizer, he may be transferring bacteria from people whose hands he shook earlier, to people whose hands he shook later.But, the record was at a state fair. State fairs are notorious for having lifestock, and it is likely that all of the people whose hands he shook were exposed to more than a few strains of bacteria from the livestock.–raj

  4. endangered coffee

    I agree with Raj. As a new dad, hand sanitizer is my friend, and not just to keep me from getting sick.otherwise, yeah, just kinda wierd

  5. jvwalt

    Well, presumably Richardson washes his hands from time to time. And while I share the concern about germ-sharing to an extent, I’d also feel more than a bit weird if I shook a politician’s hand and his next move was to grab the Purell. Hey, maybe they should be proactive about it: instead of waiting till after the handshake, pass out Handi-Wipes along the receiving line. Or have the candidate wear latex gloves.

  6. Anonymous

    Prior to the Tufts cafeteria, he was exposed to the “cuisine” at Middlesex School in Concord, so he is double-immune [g]. Odd that his web site refers to Middlesex as a “high school.” When he (and I) were there, it ran from grade 8-senior and was (is) a boarding school, which may explain the reluctance to use the term prep school?It also characterizes him as the only Hispanic student there, which may come as a surprise to two others, one of whom lived in the same dorm — but may technically have been true when he arrived in 1961 (I arrived in ’63).These quibbles aside, he’s the best candidate to emerge so far and if his prep school persona is any clue to his present character, a good choice.-dan

  7. Mitch

    Well, now I don’t trust Bill Richardson to implement a smart health care policy.

  8. Anonymous

    Actually, he’s following a very strong public health policy. Use of antibacterial soaps can lead to “superbugs,” bacteria, viruses and etc. that have developed their own defenses to the antibacterial agents in soaps. In addition, there are several municipalities worried about those antibacterial agents getting into the water supply. So I give Richardson strong support for his stand.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén