We can learn much from the stories about Hillary’s health

Summary: The Campaign 2016 circus continues, each chapter weirder than the last. Trump’s caravan is weirdness on wings, with his bizarre stream of misinformation and fantasy. Also interesting (if less scary) are the stories about Hillary’s health. This is a follow-up to Important advice for us about the election from Obama’s doctor. Only by reviewing the full story — cutting through the lies, assembling the pieces from the daily news — can we see the full picture, identify the key questions, and draw useful conclusions. Update: see the new information in the last section.

Hillary Clinton
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Recap of the story so far

As of Saturday concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health were deemed illegitimate by mainstream journalists and political gurus. For example, on Sept 6 WaPo reporter Chris Cillizza asked plaintively “Can we just stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s health now?“, referring to the “Clinton health conspiracy” (the all-purpose dismissive hand-wave). MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter dismissed NBC’s mild story about her coughing with “this ain’t news“. Then she was ill on Sunday at a 9/11 event. We can learn much about our America by careful review of what happened next.

Clinton left the Manhattan event at 9.36 am. Here is the first official story, from campaign spokesman Nick Merrill — released aprox. 90 minutes later.

“Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen. During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment and is feeling much better.”

The NY Times told us what came next.

“About 90 minutes after arriving {at Chelsea’s apartment}, Mrs. Clinton emerged from the apartment in New York’s Flatiron district. She waved to onlookers and posed for pictures with a little girl on the sidewalk. ‘I’m feeling great,’ Mrs. Clinton said. ‘It’s a beautiful day in New York.’”

This story was greeted with derision. The temperature was in the low 80s. Sometime after 5 pm Dr. Lisa R Bardack gave us a second story — with new information.

“Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies. 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 rehydrated and recovering nicely.”

Not much here. How severe was her pneumonia? What kind? How is she now? With the Clinton’s there is usually more to learn, as the Clinton’s practice selective disclosure (it’s always worked for them), so today we got another drip of information.

“She’s been well, if it is it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors, because frequently, not frequently, rarely, on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing’s happened to her when she got severely dehydrated, and she’s worked like a demon, as you know, as secretary of state, as a senator, and in the years since,’ Clinton told Charlie Rose in an interview set to air on Monday night.”

Update: CBS edited this for the show so that Clinton said “because rarely”. They were caught. and on later news broadcasts showed his actual words {source The Hill}.

Additional details

We have not been told the severity of Clinton’s allergies (coughing), odd bouts of dehydration, or pneumonia, but People reports about the latter. In late August…

“At least half a dozen senior staff were felled, including campaign manager Robby Mook. Two top advisers even needed emergency medical treatment … One top adviser diagnosed at a Brooklyn urgent-care center with a respiratory infection was being treated with antibiotics in the days before Clinton’s diagnosis. Another top adviser was taken by ambulance to the ER by ambulance after collapsing from what turned out to be severe dehydration…”

On the other hand, CNN journalist Jennifer Epstein tweeted that on “Friday, day Clinton diagnosed w pneumonia, she appeared at 2 fundraisers, ran a 2-hour natl security mtg, did a presser, sat for CNN intvu.” Not the usual symptoms of pneumonia.

The reaction is the key

Crisis management: admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations.

The Clinton campaign’s leadership denies everything (until forced to change their story).

Liberals’ first response: it’s a feminist parable! Former MI governor Jennifer Granholm tweeted “To press lamenting Hillary Clinton’s health/transparency: ‘powering through’ illness is what women do. Stoically, every. single. day.” Journalist Kurt Eichenwald tweeted: “Jesus! She was campaigning with PNEUMONIA?? I had that last summer and couldn’t get out of bed.” Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon: “Hillary powers through pneumonia — because that’s what women do.”  {Do these people believe men don’t do this as well?}

Next comes step three: counter-accusations, such as “Clinton’s health is Obama’s birth certificate all over again: A barely disguised way for conservatives to wallow in bigotry” by Amanda Marcotte at Salon (“The Clinton health hysteria is about painting women as too fragile to hold office.”)

Serious journalists have more interesting things to say. WaPo reporter Chris Cillizza wrote “Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign“. The Week reporter Damon Linker asked “Why did Hillary Clinton lie about her health?” He draws the logical conclusions…

“So the campaign chose to lie. The potential reward was considerable: namely, an absence of politically damaging news stories about Clinton’s medical condition. But the risk was enormous — and it’s blown up in their faces. Because now the story isn’t just that Clinton is ill. It’s that, once again, she’s untrustworthy — and this time about her own health.

“That’s why the announcement that she has pneumonia will only fuel more speculation about Clinton’s physical condition, with potentially no end in sight. The world saw her collapse, and 90 minutes later, the candidate looked America in the eye and proclaimed that she was feeling great. Except now we know that she wasn’t.

“Not long after this charade, someone on the campaign staff made the call to come clean. But it may well have been too late. …Like so many of the scandals and pseudo-scandals that have dogged Hillary Clinton and her husband through the years, this one needs to be recognized as entirely self-inflicted. The campaign now has to live with the consequences of having chosen to lie to get out of a problem.”

I’m skeptical that this latest story about Clinton’s health is more accurate than the ones preceding it. Damon Linker, without realizing it, points to the key lesson for us from this incident on 9-11-16: Hillary Clinton is a true woman of our ruling elites, lying casually to the peons (see the Big List of Lies by our leaders).

“Lesson for the next 4 years: whatever the question is, never believe the first answer from the Hillary Clinton White House.”
Tweet by David Frum, Sr. Editor of The Atlantic.

What should we demand?

Barack Obama, then 47, in 2008 released a 276-word report about his health. John McCain, then 71, released more than 1,000 pages of his medical history.

So far Clinton has released only a few pages of records and Trump has released only a letter from his personal physician which contains few details and which the “doctor subsequently said was rushed”. Obama’s long-term doctor, with impeccable medical and liberal credentials, said that we should insist that both candidates release their health records.

Now both candidates have said they will release some records, soon. Though not because of anything we have done, but rather by the dynamics of Campaign 2016 Circus.

What we’ve learned from these events

The Clinton campaign leaders gambled by putting a 69 year old woman with pneumonia on the road. Worse, they put others at risk — pneumonia is typically contagious for the first two days after starting antibiotics. It was irresponsible for Clinton to mingle with crowds on 9-11. What does this tell us about the judgment of Clinton and her team?

The Clinton team demonstrated yet again that they understand, as do most of our leaders (including Trump), that lies work well in America. Even when discovered we inflect no penalty for them. Journalists believe (or at least accept) the next lie, and the one after that.

Most important, these events should remind us that nothing will improve unless we regain our grip on America’s politics.  The circus of Campaign 2016, a contest between two elderly and poorly qualified candidates, warns us of the consequences should we fail to do so.

For More Information

(1)  NBC has been one of the most aggressive covering this issue (a low bar, however). Last week they gently reported about her latest coughing incident — to which Clinton’s press secretary replied “Get a life.” Yesterday NBC News asked nine gentle questions, carefully avoiding drawing any conclusions.

(2)  Yesterday CNN did a typically gentle interview with Clinton, allowing her to trot out her latest story. Nothing about the misinformation from her campaign, or the wisdom of an contagious candidate mingling with people at a crowded event.

(3)  As its “Early Lead” on Monday the WaPo produces the definitive explanation for Hillary’s 911 illness: “The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned“. The basis for his accusation: “I do not trust Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. With those two all things are possible.” Q.E.D.

(4)  Here is the new letter from Clinton’s doctor. It appears complete.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Campaign 2016, about ways to reform America’s politics, and these about Clinton…

Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton
Hard Choices.

Learn about Hillary in her own words

Read her book Hard Choices (2015). From the publisher…

“Hillary Rodham Clinton’s inside look at the choices and challenges she has faced is “a subtle, finely calibrated work…with succinct and often shrewd appraisals of the complex web of political, economic, and historical forces in play around the world” (The New York Times).

“In the aftermath of her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to return to the United States Senate. To her surprise, newly elected President Barack Obama asked her to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. “Hard Choices is a richly detailed and compelling chronicle of Clinton’s role in the foreign initiatives and crises that defined the first term of the Obama administration…it teems with small, entertaining details about her interactions with foreign leaders (Los Angeles Times).

“Secretary Clinton and President Obama had to decide how to repair fractured alliances, wind down two wars, and address a global financial crisis. Along the way, they grappled with tough dilemmas, especially the decision to send Americans into harm’s way, from Afghanistan to Libya to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. By the end of her tenure, Secretary Clinton had gained a truly global perspective on the major trends reshaping today’s landscape.

“In Hard Choices, “a rich and lively narrative” (Entertainment Weekly), Hillary Clinton offers her views on what it will take for the United States to compete and thrive. This “memoir is serious, sober, and substantive” (The New York Times Book Review).”

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