Tuesday, August 23, 2016


For a while now, the Donald Trump campaign has been making sinister suggestions about Hillary Clinton's health. Does she have brain damage? Does she have epilepsy? What's she hiding? It all seems amateurish; it's easy to imagine Reince Priebus wincing every time a Trump surrogate brings this subject up.

However, it's starting to work.

If you go to The New York Times today, you'll see this exercise in both-sides-do-it-ism. In the print edition, it's on the front page above the fold, right next to the lead story.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Ages 68 and 70, Share Few Health Details

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton have been more secretive and selective than many recent presidential nominees in providing up-to-date details about their personal health -- a particularly striking departure, experts say, given the candidates’ age.

No American election has ever featured two major-party nominees as old as Mr. Trump, 70, and Mrs. Clinton, 68, and they have kept a grueling pace for more than a year. Yet they have declined to share the latest information about their health or to make their doctors available for interviews. Each released a brief medical statement in 2015; neither has added to it since.
The story isn't singling out Clinton -- but it is saying Clinton's at fault. It says she's hiding something.

Once the premise that both sides are at fault has been established, we're told that, yes, Trump is worse:
Mr. Trump has been especially unforthcoming, even as he has sought to turn health into an issue in the presidential race, questioning Mrs. Clinton’s “physical and mental strength and stamina” as his allies push unfounded rumors that she is ill.
Doctors and medical experts said they had rarely seen so few details or updated information about the health of presidential nominees.

“Voters deserve far more information from Clinton and Trump about their health than we have now,” said Dr. Burton Lee, who was the elder George Bush’s personal physician during his four years as president. “The public has a right to know, but you just don’t have transparency with these two candidates on much of anything. That’s a given.”
This is despite the fact that many recent nominees have, in fact, limited their release of medical information to pretty much what's been released this year, at least by Clinton:
Among Democratic nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry spoke openly about their health; Mr. Kerry had survived prostate cancer. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were more reticent: Their aides argued that the two were young men with no health problems, though Mr. Clinton granted an interview on his health in 1996 under pressure from his Republican opponent, Bob Dole.
Republicans from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney have released details in the months before Election Day or directed their doctors to field questions.
But what did Romney release in 2012? A two-page physician's letter -- you can read it here. What has Hillary Clinton released in this campaign? A two-page physician's letter -- you can read it here.

They're equally frank and detailed, as is the physician's letter President Obama released in 2011, when the 2012 campaign was getting under way. The Obama letter? Two pages.

By contrast, you can read the ridiculous one-page Trump physician's letter here. Today's Times story acknowledges that there's a big difference between the Trump and Clinton letters:
Mr. Trump ... has provided only a four-paragraph statement from his gastroenterologist last December. It contained no details about his heart rate, respiratory rate, cholesterol level, past medications or family medical history. It did include several laudatory declarations, describing Mr. Trump’s blood pressure (110/65) and laboratory test results as “astonishingly excellent.”

The doctor, Harold N. Bornstein of Manhattan, concluded that Mr. Trump, if victorious, “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” -- a claim that was widely mocked as unprovable and unscientific.

Mrs. Clinton issued a significantly more detailed two-page letter from her physician in July 2015 that included information about a concussion Mrs. Clinton suffered in 2012, which left her with a blood clot in her head and double vision. Her doctor, Lisa Bardack of Mount Kisco, N.Y., said those symptoms were resolved within two months.

Mr. Clinton, however, has said that Mrs. Clinton “required six months of very serious work to get over” the concussion....
So Clinton's letter is detailed and frank, while Trump's isn't. Nevertheless: both sides!

And how ridiculous is Trump's letter? As Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald points out, it almost certainly wasn't written by a doctor:
... it says that his medical examination of Trump has “only positive results.” In medical terms, if the test is positive, it confirms the existence of disease. Is this doctor saying Trump has every medical ailment that could be found in examination? Does he not know the meaning of the word? Or, as I suspect, was the letter written by someone in the Trump campaign?

Anyone reading the letter can make a good guess about who that person might be. It says results were “extraordinarily excellent.” (Not a medical term.) It says, “His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” (Again, not a medical term.) Then, in the most hilarious, Trump-esque line of all, it says, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency.” In other words, this letter purports to show that a doctor has assessed the health of 43 people he has never examined, including the four who are still alive.
(One of those ex-presidents, Jimmy Carter, is in his nineties and recently survived brain cancer.)

Today's Times story claims that this year's candidate medical releases are unusually skimpy by recent standards. But the Times had the same complaint in 2008:
Many Holes in Disclosure of Nominees’ Health

Fifteen days before the election, serious gaps remain in the public’s knowledge about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The limited information provided by the candidates is a striking departure from recent campaigns, in which many candidates and their doctors were more forthcoming....

Last May, [John McCain's] campaign and his doctors released nearly 1,200 pages of medical information, far more than the three other nominees. But the documents were released in a restricted way that leaves questions, even confusion, about his cancer....

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. ... had emergency surgery in 1988 for an aneurysm in an artery in his brain and elective surgery for a second one. His campaign released 49 pages of medical records to The New York Times late last week showing that he was healthy, but the documents did not indicate whether he had had a test in recent years to detect any new aneurysm....

Senator Barack Obama ... released a one-page, undated letter from his personal physician in May stating that he was in “excellent” health. Late last week, his campaign released the results of standard laboratory tests and electrocardiograms from his checkups in June 2001, November 2004 and January 2007. The findings were normal.

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, 44, Mr. McCain’s running mate, has released no medical information.
So I'd say Hillary Clinton has met or exceeded recent standards in this regard -- and Donald Trump hasn't. But, y'know, both sides.


Victor said...

After 65, you might need to rethink buying green banana's!

If Hillary wins, and something happens, at least Kaine has a brain!

If - FSM FORBID!!! - t-RUMP wins, and something happens, we'll be left with Mike "The Dense" Pence. Definitely one of the dumbest people in the US government - along with a slew of other Republicans in the House and Senate!

Bob Muir said...

It's obvious that the Beltway has longed for Trump to do something so it doesn't look like He's a crazy person running for office because squirrels but someone with positons they can soberly discuss in proper bloodless format.
Since he has utterly failed at that, they have seized upon this nonsense.

John Taylor said...

Looks like Trump's letter was written by John Barron. Maybe he could write the tax returns as well.

AllieG said...

The Times expects that when it says "jump," a candidate will ask "how high." For wildly differing reasons, both Clinton and Trump say "get lost" instead. That's the REAL both siderism issue here. Forget their merits, each one is acting as if the Times isn't important.

Ten Bears said...

the Times isn't important.

Maxwell's Demon said...

We learned all we needed to know about HRC's physical and mental health during 11 hours in October of 2015 when she reduced a number o republicans to whimpering puddles of sweat.

KenRight said...

They didn't use many material from Hersh or Assange though.

Steve M. said...

"Much material," Ken. Not "many material."

I guess Putin's English for Trolls classes don't have very good instructors, do they?

Jeff Ryan said...


Only someone who is on the lee side of 65 would even imagine saying something so colossally stupid as this. Quite offensive, mate.

@Ten Bears,

The Times isn't important? I'd be tempted to agree, but I live in the real world. However undeserving, the Times is always important.