Hillary’s health scare has Trump on the rise

It hasn’t been a good week for Hillary Clinton. It started with her describing half of Donald Trump’s supporters as belonging in a “basket of deplorables … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” and ended with her having to spend three days recovering from a mild bout of pneumonia.
What made matters worse was the amateur video showing her wobbling as she got into her car after leaving a Ground Zero 9/11 memorial service, and having her doctor reveal that she had diagnosed Mrs Clinton with pneumonia two days before the incident.
The illness and its aftermath, which had Donald Trump wishing her well and looking forward to seeing her at the first debate, were a godsend for the Republican candidate, with the latest national polls showing Trump on 46 per cent to 44 for Clinton. An earlier poll had Trump 5 points ahead in Ohio, a state that in recent presidential elections has always picked the winner.
In a country that spends a lot of time worried about health (just watch the medication ads on American television), and its many citizens who suffer from all kinds of illnesses, as well as hypochondria, the health of its president is paramount. Hillary Clinton was first to produce a clean bill, even while she was on her sick bed, with her doctor, Lisa Bardack, saying she “has not developed new medical conditions this year other than a sinus and ear infection and her recently diagnosed pneumonia. She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest. She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as President of the United States.” Whew, breathed the Democratic National Committee, who would have had to choose another candidate if Secretary Clinton had to withdraw from the race.
Donald Trump, of course, is fit as a bull (and full of the bull as well), or so he has declared many times during the campaign while suggesting that Hillary Clinton might not have the stamina to be president of the United States. He took the opportunity to appear on a TV medical show (there are quite a few of them as you can imagine) with Dr Mehmet Oz, and just so happened to have a copy of his own records in his suitcoat pocket, tests taken last week by his GP, Dr Bornstein. He handed the letter to Dr Oz, who read some of the details to the audience, and said the results were good. Donald Trump later released the letter which summarised the tests, saying he takes a cholesterol-lowering drug and is overweight but overall is in “excellent physical health.”
Game tied, with Trump admitting he should lose weight, and Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail, telling supporters in North Carolina: “I recently had a cold that turned out to be pneumonia. I tried to power through it, but even I had to admit that maybe a few days’ rest would be good. I’m not great at taking it easy even under normal circumstances, but with just two months to go until Election Day, sitting at home was just the last place I wanted to be.” You can see from the photo above by the Washington Post’s Melina Mara, Secretary Clinton looks well.
Trump couldn’t resist having a go at Clinton at a rally on the day after his doctor’s appointment. He wondered aloud to the audience if she “would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this.” Washington Post reporter Robert Costa fills in the rest of the story:
“I don’t think so,” Trump told the cheering crowd. “I asked a question,” Trump said in the interview soon after. “Everyone screamed ‘No!’ I want to be respectful. I’m a respectful person. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stay there. But right now, she’s in bed recuperating and I want to be respectful.” Trump also said that he resisted weighing in on Clinton’s illness on Twitter because “I thought it would be inappropriate to tweet when I saw her in serious danger.” But was he tempted? “No,” Trump said quickly. “No. I was not tempted. Not even a little bit.”
The health issue is not going to disappear before election day on November 8. Hillary Clinton will be scrutinised every time she goes to a rally or gives a speech, especially at the three presidential debates. And health problems can lead to the withdrawal of a candidate. One of the most famous withdrawals occurred in 1972 when the Democratic Senator from Missouri, Thomas Eagleton, was forced to resign as George McGovern’s running mate in 1972 after he revealed he had been treated three times for mental illness, including electroshock therapy in hospital.
Eagleton was a late entry as the vice-presidential candidate at the Democratic Convention, and Senator McGovern wasn’t aware of his mental problems until the Monday after he was chosen. McGovern was hoping he could stand by his man, and his campaign staff put out a statement declaring he was “one thousand percent for Tom Eagleton.” But he finally had to cut Eagleton loose when Democrats stopped donating to his campaign against the incumbent president Richard Nixon. When he sacked Eagleton, McGovern tainted his image as an honest politician. As Rick Perlstein put it in his biography of Nixon, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, “The saintly don’t survive in politics.” He quotes James Naughton of the New York Times: “In the Democratic primaries, Senator McGovern managed to convey the impression that he was somehow not a politician in the customary sense. His reaction to Mr Eagleton’s disclosure may have seriously impaired that image.”
As regular readers of gonzomeetsthepress.com will know, I have often mentioned the parallels between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, and one of my journalistic heroes, Hunter S. Thompson, wrote a wonderful, gonzo book about the 1972 election, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. If you substitute Donald Trump for Richard Nixon in this paragraph by Thompson on page 414, you will see what I mean: “The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes and all his imprecise talk about ‘new politics’ and ‘honesty in government,’ is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, is we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.”
A vote for Hillary Clinton will ensure that the best instincts of the United States will be kept out of the hands of hustlers like Donald Trump. I’m also hoping that the Democratic candidate will know when it’s time to take a short break – a night with husband Bill perhaps — from the madness of a presidential campaign in the next 51 days to recharge the batteries.
Undoubtedly, Donald Trump’s campaign team will say something like the statement they released this week: “We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr Trump is in excellent health, and has the stamina to endure – uninterrupted – the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign …”
I’d rather have a rested Hillary Clinton than a hyped-up show pony any day.
Footnote: If you ever needed evidence of Donald Trump’s line of bull you need go no further than the news overnight that he has finally admitted Barack Obama was born in the United States. But after five years of leading the birther controversy, Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton started the rumours in 2008. How low can you go? It’s not the first time he’s accused Secretary Clinton of creating the controversy, but fact-checkers in the US have repeatedly disproved his assertions.

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