Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Hiding" Hillary's Health

The conspiracy theory that the mainstream media is "hiding" major health problems for Hillary Clinton is getting more traction this week after the former First Lady collapsed while leaving a 9/11 memorial service in New York over the weekend.  The official statement from the campaign is that Mrs Clinton is suffering from pneumonia (which would also explain the coughing fit at the podium last week) and being "overheated" on a hot day.  That diagnosis doesn't pass muster for anti-Clinton types, who--using video showing just the back of her head as she is helped into an SUV--are diagnosing her with every neurological disorder in the book.

While I doubt there is a media conspiracy afoot to withhold information on Hillary's health (because each news department knows the ratings gold it would be to have an "exclusive" or to be the "first to report"), it certainly is not without precedent for the American people to be kept in the dark about their elected leader.  In fact, intentional suppression of a President's health is an American tradition.

Abraham Lincoln suffered from debilitating bouts of depression--especially after the death of his son, Tad--yet there were never reports at the time that he may be unfit to serve.  Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in his second term that left him unable to speak.  Many historian concur that his wife became his "mouthpiece" after that--perhaps scooping Clinton as our "first female President"--and making many of Wilson's decisions for him.  And yet, none of that was reported at the time.

The most famous case is President Franklin Roosevelt's handicaps caused by polio.  It was agreed upon between both the White House and the press corp that pictures of FDR in a wheelchair were not to be published.  The same for shot showing the President using two canes and heavy leg braces to walk.  There were a few shots that snuck out showing the difficulty that Roosevelt had in getting around--but for the most part, Americans had no idea.

Dwight Eisenhower suffered mild strokes while President--but the extent of his neurological damage was never fully detailed.  And while it was mentioned that John Kennedy suffered from back pain, the treatment of prescription painkillers and the wearing of a brace was never fully detailed in the press.  The one time a candidate's health record was publicized--involving 1972 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton and his history of hospitalization for depression--it forced him to resign the ticket and pretty much torpedoed the George McGovern campaign.

The first time a President's health report became national news was during Ronald Reagan's tenure--and that is because he was "so old" when first elected.  For some perspective, almost 70-years old when he was first sworn into office.  That would make him a whole two years older than Hillary Clinton--and actually YOUNGER than Donald Trump.  When Nancy Reagan announced shortly after he left office that Ronald had Alzheimer's Disease, every piece of video from press conferences was closely examined--and everybody then "recognized" the signs of early dementia every time Reagan forgot a name or lost track of his thoughts while talking to the media.

To expect the elderly folks running for President this time around to be of fit body and mind is a stretch as well.  They are Baby Boomers after all--and they are part of the group that is serving to be the biggest drain on the health care system--not to mention Medicare and Medicaid.  And they won't be getting any healthier.

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