The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus is at it again. Previously, she was Very Upset, even sickened, by Donald Trump’s (and really, lots and lots of people’s) concerns over Hillary’s seemingly poor health. It was even considered sexxxxxist. And now, after months and months of records of Hillary having massive coughing attacks, barely able to walk stairs, low energy, disappearing from the campaign trail to rest, emails about her sleeping all the time and barely being able to get up, and seeing her collapse on video (thanks to an intrepid private citizen with a smartphone video recorder), Marcus has a different idea
American voters have received, we are told, all they are going to get from their presidential candidates in the way of medical information. In light of Hillary Clinton’s initially (and, if she had her way, permanently) undisclosed pneumonia, in light of Donald Trump’s unhealthy body mass index and buffoonish physician, in light of both candidates’ relatively advanced ages, this move-right-along admonition is unsettling and unsatisfying.
Experts have raised reasonable questions about Clinton’s medical care and history, including her record of blood clots and the use of the blood thinner Coumadin to treat them. And you don’t have to be an expert to know that there are reasonable questions about Trump’s health, given the willingness of his doctor to issue the assurance that “unequivocally” Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” No one should trust a doctor like that.
One proposed solution would be for the candidates to submit to the “full McCain,” a reference to the Arizona Republican senator’s decision to allow reporters to review his full medical records, albeit for a single, three-hour window.
Which was not required of Obama, let’s not forget. But was also demanded of Sarah Palin in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Of course, that’s not what Marcus wants now that Hillary is running
This approach is tempting. After all, running for president — and being president — essentially means giving up any claim to privacy. The unique power of the office, combined with the risk of a president suffering from undisclosed health issues and the history of presidents’ hiding such problems, argues for tipping the scales in favor of more disclosure, not less.
And yet, the implications of making such disclosure a matter of routine expectation in the end tilt against such a demand. Medical records are more intimate and more susceptible to ignorant misinterpretation than tax returns. The totality of a candidate’s medical history is not as important as his or her current health, including whether past issues raise the prospect of future problems.
How many articles did the Washington Post spend on Mitt Romney hazing a kid back in the 1960’s and putting his dog on the roof of the car in a dog carrier? But, OK, fine, let’s spend time on current medical history. How far back shall we go? A couple months? A year? A few years?
Consider some scenarios. A future female presidential candidate has had an abortion. The decision to terminate her pregnancy has no bearing on her health but could be politically explosive and is, in any event, a decision that she should be able to choose to keep private.
Or she has a history of miscarriages, about which she has never spoken publicly. Or a male candidate has a low sperm count or other problem that made it difficult for him to father a child and led the couple to use artificial insemination, something they have not previously revealed. Or he has erectile dysfunction. Are we really comfortable forcing such facts into public view?
It’s a nice deflection, but none of that has any bearing on the actual health of a candidate. What if a candidate has a history of falls, of breaking bones, of getting concussions so bad they need special glasses so they aren’t seeing double? How about if they are collapsing on video, and constantly having hacking coughing attacks? Is that relevant?
But, let’s give Ruth some credit: she has a good idea
The candidates could have a similar checkup, consistent with what they would receive as president. A military physician would be considered an independent and trustworthy source, someone who could use his or her judgment to determine what in a candidate’s medical history is relevant in the present.
Now, of course, she isn’t saying this should be done, she’s just throwing the idea out there. But, this is great. Let’s have this done.
Crossed at Right Wing News.