Clinton’s attempt to conceal her pneumonia
The physical health of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump became a major campaign issue this week, after the Democratic nominee collapsed outside a 9/11 memorial ceremony and later revealed she had pneumonia. Diagnosed with the lung infection last Friday, Clinton, 68, initially informed only a handful of staffers, and refused to alter her campaign schedule. When she then fell ill at the 9/11 ceremony in New York on Sunday, her aides insisted she was just “overheated.” But when a video then emerged of Clinton fainting as she got into a van while leaving the 9/11 event, her campaign came clean about her pneumonia diagnosis. “Obviously I should have gotten some rest sooner,” said Clinton, who canceled her campaign events Monday through Wednesday. “I just didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal.” Her campaign released a letter from her doctor saying the candidate is “recovering well” from pneumonia, and remains “fit to serve as president of the United States.” The doctor also said that Clinton has low cholesterol but takes a blood thinner to prevent clots.
Showing unusual restraint, Donald Trump said he hoped Clinton would recover. He later went on The Dr. Oz Show to share the results of a physical he underwent last week. The episode was scheduled to air after The Week went to press, but according to audience reports, the Republican nominee, 70, produced a letter his doctor pronouncing him generally healthy, but overweight. Trump told Oz that golf is his only exercise, and that he would like to lose 15 to 20 pounds. The physical was performed by Dr. Harold Bornstein, the gastroenterologist who in an earlier assessment said Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
What the editorials said
Clinton “already had a transparency problem” before she and her staff tried to hide this case of pneumonia, said The Baltimore Sun. If she had been open about her diagnosis from the start, it would have been a “minor episode,” because pneumonia is a “temporary and treatable ailment.” Now she’s reinforced the perception that she can’t be trusted. With polls tightening, this “unforced error” was “precisely the sort of mistake [she] can’t afford to keep making.” Clinton’s health is definitely a legitimate “campaign issue,” said The Wall Street Journal. At 68, she is “the oldest nominee in her party’s history.” She has a history of blood clots, and recently told FBI investigators she couldn’t remember some security briefings in 2012 because she was recovering from a concussion. But Trump’s health deserves equal attention, especially given the photos of him “working through a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.” Both candidates should release detailed and complete medical records, not brief summaries from their doctors.
What the columnists said
Clinton’s collapse was “particularly ill-timed,” said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. Speculation over her health has grown in recent weeks, especially after she had a coughing fit on stage. Until now, she has dismissed such chatter as “smears” and “conspiracy theories.” Now she’s suffered another setback to her credibility—“the last thing her camp needed.”
Clinton tried to “soldier on” through pneumonia for a simple reason, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. It’s “because she’s a woman.” Trump has repeatedly called into question Clinton’s “stamina,” warning that she isn’t “strong enough to be president.” Like so many women who have to work “twice as hard to be [considered] as good as a man,” Clinton didn’t want to show any signs of weakness. Clinton may be too “secretive,” said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com, but “Trump is unprecedented in his contempt for transparency.” He has refused to release his tax returns; he hasn’t told voters what he’ll do with his businesses and assets if elected, despite real conflicts of interest; and he hasn’t once addressed major questions about his charitable foundation. The “double standard” is blatant.
The botched pneumonia episode is “a preview of how a second Clinton White House would operate,” said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com. Hillary didn’t want to give “any more fodder” to her Republican critics, so she attempted a cover-up. It was the “same pattern” with her private email server, Monica Lewinsky, and so many other Clinton scandals. Voters have been given yet another reminder that “it never pays to trust a Clinton.”
It wasn’t all bad
■■Most women celebrate their bachelorette party with tiaras and bottomless booze, but not Jessika Baldwin. The Pittsburgh bride-to-be said she wanted a more memorable event than a night on the town “taking shots” and “stumbling around,” so she decided to give women from a local homeless shelter a day of pampering. Baldwin and her bridal took the residents for haircuts and manicures, a shopping spree, and a restaurant dinner. “This was just the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in my life,” said Baldwin.
■■Four visually impaired runners clocked faster times in the men’s 1,500 meters final at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics this week than the fully sighted athlete who won gold in the same event at last month’s Olympics. Algerian Paralympian Abdellatif Baka crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 48.29 seconds— setting a new world record and eclipsing U.S. Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz’s winning time of 3:50. Right behind Baka came silver winner Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia (3:48.59), Kenyan bronze medalist Henry Kirwa (3:49.59), and Algerian Fouad Baka (3:49.84). “It wasn’t easy to get this gold medal,” says Abdellatif Baka. “I’ve been working one or two years nonstop.”
■■Two Chinese orphans and best friends have been reunited in Texas after 11 months apart. When Sharon Sykes and her husband adopted their 4-year-old daughter Hannah from an orphanage in China last year, they realized they were taking her away from her best chum, 3-year-old Dawson. Determined to find Dawson a loving home, Sykes posted his story on Facebook. Amy Clary, who lives near Sykes in Plano, saw the message and decided to adopt the boy. Dawson landed in Dallas last week, where an overjoyed Hannah was waiting. “They must have hugged 400 times!” says Clary.