Clinton Sprays Gasoline on Embers of Health Issue
“It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder” – attributed to Talleyrand, among others
The above line – a reference to Napoleon’s alienating decision to execute a duke convicted of espionage against him – leapt into the mind when Hillary Clinton’s campaign acknowledged yesterday that she came down with pneumonia…on Friday.
By now, nearly everyone is aware that Mrs. Clinton was unwell during yesterday’s 9/11 commemoration in Manhattan and had to leave early. The lack of immediate explanation was enough to make Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post change his mind on the salience of the “health issue.”
Clinton may well be totally fine — and I certainly hope she is. But we are 58 days away from choosing the person who will lead the country for the next four years, and she is one of the two candidates with a real chance of winning. Taking the Clinton team’s word for it on her health — in light of the episode on Sunday morning — is no longer enough. Reasonable people can — and will — have real questions about her health.
Sunday morning changed the conversation in the race about Clinton’s health. Or rather it will force Clinton to have a conversation about her health in the race.
Those of us who have ever called Washington “local” are wise enough to know that when Washington Post writers are demanding answers of a Democrat, said Democrat has a problem. It didn’t take long for an explanation (WaPo, emphasis added):
“Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies,” Lisa R. Barack, Clinton’s physician, said Sunday in the statement. “On Friday, during follow up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely.”
It should be noted that catching pneumonia is hardly a health disqualifier, and all but the most vicious members of the Trumpenproletariat (I’m guessing, sadly, that’s still a majority of them), wish Mrs. Clinton a speedy recovery.
That said, I am completely and utterly thunderstruck by the political stupidity involved in attempting to keep this under wraps. For weeks, the Trumpenproletariat have been whispering – and in some case, shouting – ever more bizarre conspiracy theories about the Clinton campaign hiding an illness of the candidate from the public.
Yet, somehow, the Clinton campaign decided that the best way to respond to this was…to actually hide an illness of the candidate from the public.
Tip for beginning campaigners: opponent’s conspiracy theories are to be debunked, not corroborated.
Had Clinton simply revealed the diagnosis on Friday, she could have rested up and allowed Barack Obama and Tim Kaine to do the campaigning for a while. The former has an approval rating well over 50%, and the latter is respected across the political spectrum for his demeanor, civility, and persona, while his actual hard-left politics (to which we Virginians who saw his constant demand for tax hike can attest) would appeal to Sandernistas. In fact, one could argue that some time away from the campaign trail would help voters remember that Mrs. Clinton (whom they neither like nor trust, and for good reason) is part of the larger Democratic Party (to which, sadly, a majority of Americans would love to give the White House).
In fact, she can still do all of this now over the next two days – or even the entire week (to ensure full recovery). Only now, it comes with the tinge of voters having yet another example of why they can’t trust Hillary Clinton. That’s good for the voters, who should take the time to consider other options (such as my choice, Gary Johnson), but not good for her.