Over the weekend, President Donald Trump played golf. Twice.
Perhaps self-conscious of his time spent on the links, he also made a point of defending himself against critics of his leisure time (although none were readily obvious).
“I know many in business and politics that work out endlessly, in some cases to a point of exhaustion. It is their number one passion in life, but nobody complains. My ‘exercise’ is playing, almost never during the week, a quick round of golf. Obama played more and much longer rounds, no problem. When I play, Fake News CNN, and others, park themselves anywhere they can to get a picture, then scream ‘President Trump is playing golf.’ Actually, I play VERY fast, get a lot of work done on the golf course, and also get a ‘tiny’ bit of exercise. Not bad!”
(Sidebar: It is not true that President Barack Obama played more golf than Trump.)
Trump’s repeated mention of “exercise” in those tweets reminded me of what I consider to be the weirdest (and one of the littlest-known) beliefs that the President carries: his battery theory of life energy.
For the uninitiated: Evan Osnos, in a profile of Trump in The New Yorker a few years back, described that “battery” theory thusly:
“Other than golf, he considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy.”
This, from the book “Trump Revealed,” by Washington Post reporters Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, explains Trump’s theory in a bit more detail:
“After college, after Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted. Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So he didn’t work out. When he learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he admonished him, ‘You are going to die young because of this.’”
Basically, Trump believes that exercise is, in fact, bad for you – unnecessarily draining your life battery. This is, uh, not backed up by science.
But it does seem to be why Trump has resisted taking the advice of the White House physician over the past few years to get more exercise – and been defensive about it.
“I get exercise. I mean I walk, I this, I that,” Trump told Reuters soon after the details of his 2018 physical were released. “I run over to a building next door. I get more exercise than people think.”
Golf, of course, is exempt from Trump’s skepticism of exercise. Which is why his rounds on Saturday and Sunday were his 276th and 277th visits to one of his golf clubs during his presidency.
The Point: Trump has a lot of odd views informed by superstition and anecdotal evidence rather than actual science and data. The battery theory of life force is the oddest.