The recent frenzy over Hillary Clinton’s health made me think of Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing.” Not because pneumonia is anything close to fictional President Bartlet’s multiple sclerosis, though we can certainly find scores of Trump supporters who believe Clinton has some sort of degenerative disease.
It is because of the important distinction between health, and having the right temperament, the appropriate values and the poise to be President of the United States.
Conservative news outlet Infowars claims that Hillary Clinton has a “debilitating medical crisis,” reporting that she has Parkinson's disease. In contrast, it was announced Sunday that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday.
The loud voices making such unproven assertions will feel emboldened by yesterday’s events, when Secretary Clinton left a 9/11 memorial event earlier than expected. Further, a relatively troubling video surfaced showing the Democratic nominee unable to hold herself up when getting into her motorcade.
In fairness, her medical reports have been made public. Conversely, Trump refuses to supply a detailed health record.
Clinton’s delay in announcing her pneumonia diagnosis, coupled with a strong sense among the American public that she is untrustworthy, will do her no favors as we reach the climax of election 2016.
Another video showed Clinton looking recovered as she waved to cameras a few hours later when leaving her daughter Chelsea’s apartment. Whatever episode Hillary Clinton had yesterday morning, her speedy recovery and decision to cancel a trip to California early this week, point to serious measures taken to deal with her health.
The question: are Clinton’s recent health issues a reason not to vote for her in November? The answer for many will be no. Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims, Hispanics, women, the disabled, to name a few prominent concerns, is why.
A presidential election is about values and a candidate's ability to react appropriately in the innumerably varied situations a president is thrown into from day one. While there is not enough space here to reiterate all of Trump's disqualifying quotes, a recent one illustrates perfectly the danger of a Trump presidency.
Trump basically ripped up the First Amendment when he told a group of supporters: “In a Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, defended and protected like you’ve never seen before.” “Just like it says in the Constitution,” mused The Guardian.
Add that to his desire to crack down on press freedom and religious minorities. Plus, his recent claim that he would fire military generals if he reaches the office of the president. Bottom line: The GOP presidential nominee dangerously misunderstands the circumscribed powers of the office.
Instead, he sounds like someone who wants to emulate one of his idols, Vladimir Putin. That is what we should fear in this election, not Hillary Clinton’s health. Remember, FDR, one of our most revered presidents, who served during some of America’s most trying years, had polio.
This is not to say that Clinton’s health should go unchecked. Both she and Trump should release more extensive health records -- McCain, older than both current candidates at the time he was running, did so in 2008.
There are also the serious issues of Trump withholding his tax returns from the public and his apparent pay-for-play relationship with Pam Bondi in Florida. Clarity is needed on both fronts.