Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after becoming president, yet the disease begins in the brain as much as 30 years earlier. Woodrow Wilson suffered several strokes before being elected, yet never revealed this information to the public, and then during his presidency, suffered a massive stroke, passed off as him just being “under the weather”. In 1893, Grover Cleveland smuggled a surgeon aboard a friend’s boat; the surgeon subsequently removed an oral cancer from his mouth, but the whole thing was touted as a fishing trip. Our youngest president, JFK, was viewed as vibrant at age 43, yet he suffered from a multitude of debilitating conditions, including back pain and Addison’s disease, and took a whole host of steroids and other drugs. The pain was so severe that he started frequent methamphetamine injections while in the White House. FDR’s death in his final term was from a cerebral hemorrhage, caused by his advanced heart disease, yet the public was unaware. How healthy is Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
A president dying in office from a condition known before the election? A president hyped up on meth? CNN asked the questions: How well do these issues sit with the American people? What right does the public have to know a candidate’s health history? Of course, Trump and Clinton have the same federal privacy law protection that any citizen has to guard against undue scrutiny of medical records. There is certainly a balance, but what is the right balance? Illnesses can be blown out of proportion by the media and on the Internet, as evidenced by the latest speculation about Bill Clinton’s hand tremor during the July DNC Convention. While many suspected he had Parkinson’s, Clinton suffers from the harmless benign essential tremor. Records can be faked, as evidenced by the recent Hillary Clinton case. But if a person is suffering from a very serious disease that impacts their ability to perform this strenuous job, should the public be informed?
Historically, candidates have not released records. Today, some candidates are leary to release detailed medical records for fear of being perceived as anything less than perfect and thus potentially affecting their electability. Others put the information out there, believing that speculation is worse than reality. Both Clinton and Trump have recently released summary letters from their personal physicians.
There has been massive media speculation recently about Hillary Clinton’s health, and with more than half of Americans viewing Hillary as “unfavorable”, they are left wondering that if Hillary lies about her email, is she also lying about her health? In December of 2012, Mrs. Clinton contracted a stomach virus during State Department travel. As a result, she became dehydrated, then fainted, hit her head and suffered a concussion.
Certain media outlets have questioned her appearance, over-exaggerated head movements, bizarre coughing fits, strange laughter, the now-infamous photo of her being helped up the stairs, and of course, the extended bathroom break during a debate with Sanders. Her personal physician, Lisa Bardack, who has served as Clinton’s doc for the last 15 years, released a fit-for-office letter summarizing Hillary’s seasonal allergies, hypothyroidism, and a clean bill of health where cancer and heart disease are concerned. But as a result of the 2012 concussion, Clinton developed a blood clot in a vein between the brain and skull, a rare condition brought on by both trauma and dehydration. She has also had two past episodes of deep vein thrombosis, one in 1998 and more recently in 2009. She takes a blood thinner called coumadin which must be closely monitored to ensure exact dosage to prevent adverse side effects. Case in point, Hillary released statements that she was fine two months after the concussion, but her own husband said it was “horrible for her” and that it took six months.
Ed Klein states in his new book “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary” that Americans should be concerned because her health is much worse than doctors are admitting. Klein says that he has sources that say she has had to take time off from the campaign due to lack of energy and that she suffers from dizziness and hand tremors, and has seen a neurologist. Breitbart claims to have independent NYPD and federal agent law enforcement sources who have nearly identical stories about Clinton’s extended debate bathroom break, both stating it was actually due to issues from the previous brain injury and that she has needed help walking to her car after delivering speeches due to dizziness, disorientation, and fatigue. This has led to a conclusion by some that Clinton has post-concussion syndrome, very common in women over age 65, and known to severely impact cognitive ability. The Breitbart report goes on to say that veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone said “a number of New York Democrats, very prominent, well-known, wealthy New York Democrats, told me last year that Hillary had very significant health issues and that they were surprised that she was running in view of her health problems and her lack of stamina. So far, she’s run a very controlled campaign.” Even her own staffer, Huma Abedin has stated in email that Hillary is “often confused”.
Will Hillary, and for that matter, Donald, release more records? Only time will tell. Will America change the mechanism by which we get information on our candidates’ health? Interestingly, in the same report as above, CNN reported that in 2008, a prestigious panel of doctors recommended that an independent team of doctors examine both presidential and vice-presidential candidates, very similar to what is done in the military as well as for commercial airline pilots. If you haven’t ever heard this, it is because the recommendation never went anywhere. Why? Because we have very polarized political parties, and candidates probably wouldn’t trust the doctors to leave politics at the door. Plus, the candidates themselves would also have to comply, so we are left with a doctor’s letter assuring us that everything is okay. I think we all know that doctors are likely swayed by their political patients, but perhaps the information we have is better than nothing.