That’s actually the name of a public service campaign by the National Kidney Foundation, and I thought it a needless statement of the obvious until Donald Trump brought me to my senses. Apparently some people think that the laws of urology don’t apply to them. Apparently Trump is in this category.
On Monday he said this of Hillary Clinton’s mid-debate bathroom break: “I know where she went. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting.”
He didn’t specify why. But it’s difficult to find anything indecorous about Clinton’s behavior unless you see it as entirely volitional and utterly controllable – something you do to indulge yourself, something that can be put off for hours or forever, an emblem of your weakness. I guess in Trump’s world, only “low energy” people need to goem./em
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
That would make sense, given how fantastical his cosmos is. It’s a place where thousands of Muslims in New Jersey publicly cheer the fall of the World Trade Center; where a stretch of the Potomac River alongside a Virginia golf club of his magically becomes a Civil War site; where his own net worth changes by an order of billions from one moment to the next, in accordance with his need to puff up his chest.
Why wouldn’t it also be a place where people relieve themselves only if they’re losers and they’re intent on a messiness that they can avoid? Maybe Trump really doesn’t pee. Maybe he outsources that to a Mexican immigrant in his employ.
You have to hand it to him: He divines character flaws where no one else could or would. Through his warped lens, there’s shame in John McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, horror in Clinton’s use of a toilet, dysfunction in each bead of Marco Rubio’s sweat.
Those last two items underscore his bizarre obsession with, and objection to, body fluids. In early November, Daniel Lippman of Politico noted that Trump had “remarked on Rubio’s perspiration at least eight times in the last seven weeks.” On two of those occasions, Trump suggested that sweating would put Rubio at a disadvantage in negotiations with Vladimir Putin, who would find him too soggy.
The fluids of women in particular rattle Trump. When a lawyer who was questioning him during a 2011 deposition asked for a break so that she could leave the room and pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter, he was unhinged.
“You’re disgusting,” he berated her, according to a story in The Times earlier this year by Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder. Then he stormed out of the deposition.
More famously, he reflected on Megyn Kelly’s interrogation of him at the first Republican presidential debate by saying that “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Clinton’s bathroom break – or, more precisely, Trump’s revulsion toward it – lies at the intersection of his misogyny and his fastidiousness. He’s a germophobe who once labeled himself “a clean hands freak,” called handshakes a “terrible custom” and said that the obligation to engage in them was one of the great curses of celebrity like his.
Even so, a kidney doctor I know was baffled by his latest outburst.
“Urine is sterile,” Maya Rao, an assistant professor of nephrology at Columbia University, pointed out. “It’s not ‘disgusting.’ Wow. I literally feel like I’m dealing with an elementary-school child and we’re talking about cooties.”
Trump is routinely – and rightly – tagged as a playground bully, but that phrase doesn’t do full justice to his arrested development, his potty mouth and the puerile nature of his vulgar bleats.
He taunts people for being unpopular, for being unattractive, for physical disabilities. The altitude of his debate vocabulary is only millimeters above “I know you are, but what am I,” words that he'll surely utter before this is all over.
On Monday he not only cringed at Clinton’s bathroom visit, he mocked her loss in the 2008 presidential election by substituting a phallic verb for the word defeated.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your Republican front-runner. It’s probably too late to teach him manners but maybe not to teach him biology: When you imbibe fluids, you excrete fluids, sometimes through sweat, often through urine.
And while “the typical person goes to the bathroom every three or four hours,” said Matthew Rutman, a urologist at Columbia, that frequency increases for someone who’s older, who’s enduring stress, who’s ingesting caffeine. In other words, for most presidential candidates.
Everybody pees. But it’s the rare man-child who finds that worthy of ridicule. And it’s up to voters: Is that the kind of exceptionalism you want in the White House?