California Forum

Why isn’t all that fast food more hazardous to Trump’s health?

President Donald Trump, shown golfing in 2012, made a point during the 2016 presidential campaign of publicizing his preference for McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
President Donald Trump, shown golfing in 2012, made a point during the 2016 presidential campaign of publicizing his preference for McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) AP

Until recently, when his doctor purportedly insisted that he start eating less junk food and more salads, President Donald Trump was among McDonald’s most loyal customers.

It was said that during his campaign run, to maintain the energy necessary for all that extemporaneous speechifying, the famously non-exercising tycoon would routinely scarf down two Big Macs for lunch along with two Filet-of-Fish sandwiches, washing down all that with a chocolate milkshake. For anyone keeping score, that’s about 2,400 delicious, artery-choking calories, or 400 more than the maximum number the FDA says an average adult male is supposed to consume in an entire day.

Those who despise Trump quietly thrill to reports of him ignoring doctor’s orders and continuing to sneak burgers and buckets of greasy fried chicken. If Robert Mueller doesn’t nail him, such thinking goes, maybe bad cholesterol will.

Therein lies a certainly ironic corollary:

McDonald’s was born in California, a state Trump detests, and it is McDonald’s that may one day prove his end. Harsh as it may sound, many in the Golden State and across the nation secretly wish the president would speed the process and eat himself to death.

California, of course, is where #TheResistance is informally headquartered, that loose confederation of liberals convinced that Trump’s presidency is akin to a Biblical plague. Chat in confidence with the more extreme among these outraged folks, assure them the Secret Service isn’t listening in, and odds are they’ll start fantasizing aloud about non-violent ways for this presidency to be over. A massive coronary rates right up there.

These people can’t fathom how regularly stuffing one’s face with sodium and saturated fat can help kill so many Americans – heart disease accounts for more than 600,000 deaths annually – but not even slow the Couch Potato-in-Chief.

And so, those who despise Trump quietly thrill to reports of him ignoring doctor’s orders and continuing to sneak burgers and buckets of greasy fried chicken. If Robert Mueller doesn’t nail him, such thinking goes, maybe bad cholesterol will.

How in the world did we get to this point? How could otherwise ordinarily benevolent Americans become so disgusted with a president and his scandals that they would harbor such ugly thoughts? Perhaps the answers can be found in an honest soul-searching of the body politic, a definitive socioeconomic assessment of the ever-widening schism between left and right.

But if you’re craving a quicker and tastier explanation, why not consider McDonald’s itself?

Nobody ever visits the Golden Arches for a new and exciting dining experience. They go because they know exactly what they’re paying for. There are nearly 37,000 McDonald’s outlets worldwide. Their menus may vary somewhat from country-to-country, but you can assume that the quarter-pounder with cheese you order in Sacramento, and that cuatro de libra con queso you order in Buenos Aires, will more or less resemble each other.

The marketing gurus at McDonald’s understand the comfort in sameness. Cheeseburgers and presidents have historically shared that virtue – or used to, anyway.

Little is comforting or familiar about Donald Trump. Never has there been so un-presidential or unpredictable a president. Virtually each day of his administration brings greater unease.

It’s like living on a seismically active fault line that erupts frequently and without warning. You want the earth to stop shaking. You crave a return to the predictable and familiar, not unlike the McDonald’s fast food Trump is so fond of devouring.

This is why some Americans find themselves fantasizing about the day when Trump’s presidency will end by whatever means, when we can all return to the way politics used to be – bland and predictable.

An unhappy presidency, done in by too many Happy Meals? Now that’s junk food for thought.

David Freed, novelist and former reporter for The Los Angeles Times, lives in Santa Barbara. He can be contacted at David-Freed.com.

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