Thursday, September 15, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: How much should candidate's health matter?

The consensus seems to be that Hillary Clinton has taken a hit politically after the controversy involving her suffering from pneumonia while campaigning. Two things seem clear to me: 

1) Pneumonia is not that big a deal. I have had it several times in the last decade or so. It is easily curable. The Trump line that Hillary Clinton "lacks stamina" was thoroughly disproven by her performance before the House Committee that grilled her for a full day (and more) about the email scandal.

2) Hiding the fact that Clinton had pneumonia reinforced a much more important problem about the campaign than her health: A penchant for secrecy and control that dashes any hope for transparency in a Clinton administration.

What do you think?

Trump has not shared anything about his health that is a serious medical report. Trump has not released his tax returns. Must we therefore believe that there is something nefarious in his tax returns that he is hiding. The failure of the media to be balanced is the problem. If you had been attacked for 30 years by the right wing, with 99% of those allegations proved false, would you be open to hand them anything?

Even the question is biased!!!!
1. "Thoroughly disproven" is a pretty strong statement. A ten-hour tour de force in the face of a farcical Congressional hearing is good theater--but I would not call that episode a definitive and conclusive statement on a tangentially related rolling question regarding the state of a candidate's health. So, I would say the matter of "health" is an open question--not a settled matter.

2. What made Hillary look so bad in the recent incident? Sure, the confirmation of the now undeniable pattern of secrecy and misdirection that has personified the Clinton style for a quarter century of American political history had an impact. However, much worse than that was the (not necessarily concerted or orchestrated but definitely united) effort by a sympathetic mainstream press to frame any questions of Hillary's health as an alt-right meme. The renegade video appeared as a repudiation of an official press corps that had lately spent a great deal of their precious and dwindling capital assuring us that Hillary was a robust and uncannily healthy 68-year-old dynamo.

On the other hand, Trump is awful and 266 pounds of unattractive unhealthiness (as the Clinton campaign has pointed out repeatedly this week). And that is one of his better qualities. Can you imagine what this race would look like if Mrs. Clinton were running against a fresh-faced forty-something with a gift for oratory?
The very biased question "..a penchant for secrecy and control that dashes any hope for transparency in a Clinton administration. What do you think?" got me to thinking.

When I was 15 years old I broke my finger in a football practice and the swelling extended into my wrist. I hid the swelling so that I could continue to play until it got better. It got better. I certainly should not be trusted as that event indicates a life of secrecy and misdirection

Waco Farmer You have asked an interesting question. Instead of superficial changes in the Donald like speaking ability, appearance and age, what if the Donald were a serious candidate for President and had real concerns for the country. What if he was a Republican? What if he had real solutions on issues like climate change, social and criminal justice, inequality, peace, true national and personal security, education, economic growth, gun and violence control, infrastructure, etc? Now that would be interesting, but my vote would still be for Hillary because she has already addressed these issues and I trust her.
Amen to John. If only there werea candidate out there who faintly resembled what I believe. I envy you, John. I can imagine that you might still pine for Bernie, and I imagine Jill Stein might actually be a bit closer to your own view, but Hillary is good enough. Democratic Party enough. Progressive enough. And she is worthy of your trust on that point.

BTW: the actual reason for my follow-up post, I forgot to answer one of the questions (the headline question, in fact): how much does a candidate's health matter?

Traditionally, not much. For the most part, unhealthy candidates have had the good sense to not run. And unhealthy candidates have been weeded out by the process, JFK being a notable exception; and surely FDR in 1944--but who can say we wish those candidates had made wiser health decision and deprived us of their leadership?

In general, in the past, health is mostly a political issue. If an old man runs against a young man (Dole & Clinton; McCain and Obama), generally, the young man frames the issue of health to his political advantage. But, all in all, for the most part, historically, health has not played a major role in presidential campaigns. And that strikes me as mostly a good thing.
Its not Hillary's health that's the issue, its her secretive/guarded/defensive nature.

Which is the problem with her whole campaign. She's running a defensive campaign. She's trying to prove negatives and to trash Trump (which he richly deserves).

But what does she stand FOR?

I've said it before, this reminds me of 2008. The sitting party's candidate is old and wise with a long track record. And many doubters. The challenger is untested, throws out bromides and has no clear, definite agenda other than change.

--Don't get me wrong, Obama is 100% better than Trump in just about every way. But its the same general theme.

Hillary needs to be FOR something and make some positive proposals. And/or figure out how to rise above the noise level.
I think both candidates have significant issues with transparency. Clinton has clearly fueled a lot of this in a self-sabotaging manner. Yet, I do not understand why more noise and attention is not being paid attention to Trumps stonewalling on his tax returns or his complete joke of an MD … and a host of other issues. He hardly ever responds directly to a direct question. I think there has been a double standard applied to Clinton … and there is a long history of her being targeted. Furthermore, their health is the least of my concerns and I can respect some need for privacy. That said, I think there is a very troubling sexist/sexualized/misogynistic subtext in all the encoded language about health and “stamina” … about how big, strong, awesome, and amazing Trump and his “hands” are … “I am just fine in that department.” And last night “I don’t know, folks, you think Hillary would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this? I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Obviously she is not man enough, tough enough, well-endowed enough or taking enough Viagra to be President … according to a 15-year-old boy with testosterone poisoning. That’s what I think!
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