Around 5 p.m. yesterday, CNN sounded the “all-clear” vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton’s health. The Deomcratic nominee had been examined by Lisa Bardack, her personal physician, who diagnosed her condition as pneumonia. Mrs. Clinton is already on the road to recovery, viewers were assured, and will be campaigning — and falling down — soon.
OK, the wording of my paranthetical prognosis is crass. But it’s also accurate judging from other “episodes” has had sicne throwing her hate in the ring.
The difference between yesterday’s collapse into the back of a van and — say — her being helped up a flight of stairs of her home by a coterie of Secret Service personnel earlier this year is one of publicity. The earlier episode was captured by a lone professional photographer who happened to be present. Yesterday’s incident, in contrast, occurred at a very public event with numerous eyewitnesses, many with camera phones to chronicle her struggles.
Before yesterday, the Clinton campaign studiously ignored speculation about her health because they could afford to. Her bouts of illness had been isolated, and Team Clinton could sit back and allow their acolytes in the mainstream media to accuse the Right of conspiracy theories. Yesterday, Hillary became ill on national TV, which required an explanation. Hence, the diagnosis of pneumonia.
But if you check out this morning’s headlines, you find that regardless of her doctor’s claim, the dye has been cast. “Physical weakness caught on camera turns health conspiracy into a legitimate campaign concern,” broadcasts Politico in the subhead of an article. “Hillary Clinton’s worrisome wobble” is the headline the Los Angeles Times had chosen for its commentary on yesterday’s episode.
It is entirely possible that Hillary Clinton is healthy. I spoke with a doctor who explained to me that she may be sufferomg from a condition called vasovagal syncope, which causes a relatively healthy person to faint in reaction to certain triggers, such as fatigue or stress. And to be fair, running president is a pretty tiring and stressful job.
Yet the manner in which Clinton and her handlers are dealing with her occasional episodes make you wonder if it’s not something more serious. Hot Air’s Morrissey asks aloud how wise it was yesterday to take the ailing Clinton to her daughter’s apartment rather than the hospital and whether that decision was “political than medical.”
Watching Clinton over these past months has made me wonder whether we’re witnessing someone accomplish a bucket list goal of being sworn in as president before collapsing for good. It’s idle speculation, but it could be put to rest by Clinton agreeing to be get a second opinion, rendered by an imparital independent doctor. She owes the American people that much.
*UPDATE* And the other shoe drops. The Washington Post reports that Clinton’s campaign will release additional medical records this week.
The decision to make additional disclosures came as the campaign has come under a new round of scrutiny for a lack of transparency following Clinton’s abrupt, stumbling departure from a commemoration Sunday of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Democrats and Republicans criticized Clinton for leaving the public and the media in the dark for much of the day, feeding rumors about Clinton’s health and fueling the perception that she is unnecessarily secretive.
Aides acknowledged Monday that the campaign should have handled news of Clinton’s dizzy spell and pneumonia diagnosis differently.
“We could have done better yesterday, but it is a fact that the public knows more about HRC than any nominee in history,” wrote Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri on Twitter in response to the criticism, using the initials of the Democratic presidential nominee.
The boast about the public knowing all about Clinton is fairly meaningless in light of yesterday’s event just being the most visible in a series of such episodes.
On Monday morning, President Obama’s former campaign strategist David Axelrod gave voice to Democrats’ concerns that the campaign had erred on the side of secrecy rather than transparency, further playing into a perception among voters that Clinton is untrustworthy.
“Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia,” Axelrod wrote. “What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”
Although Axelrod’s point is spot on, he is the last person is the world who should be preaching about “unhealthy penchant(s) for privacy.”
It was also revealed today that the diagnosis of pneumonia was made Friday, casting further doubt on Clinton’s judgment. Apparently, she had no qualms about exposing thousands of attendees of the 9/11 ceremony to a potentially contagious infectious disease.