After Hillary Clinton collapsed this week apparently from pneumonia, both U.S. presidential candidates have been under increasing pressure to release their full medical records. Jed Hutchinson reports.
The rightwing media are making much of Hillary Clinton's health issues, but what about Trump?
LOOKING BACK through the history of United States presidential elections, one can find the gold standard of scrutiny over a candidate’s health as prosecuted by the media. Senator John McCain was 71 years old at the time, and would have been the oldest ascendant president in history. McCain released 1,173 pages of medical records and gave 20 reporters access to interview his doctors.
Both candidates in this current election campaign inhabit a similar venerable vintage, with Hillary Clinton at age 68 and Donald Trump, 70.
Both candidates this week (Wednesday, 15/9/16), after much delay, produced a medical summary. Clinton released a two page summary to her website, which medical experts have already noted amounts to a little more updated 28 July statement. Trump produced a medical summary on the Dr Oz show, presumably because Dr Phil wasn’t available or returning his phone calls. Although discussed by Dr Oz, and Trump given a glowing bill of health, the actual text of this statement has still not been released to the public.
But especially after her collapse last weekend, it is Hillary’s health that has been receiving most scrutiny recently.
Of course, questions regarding former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s health are not new. They have been rising piece by piece to the surface like dislocated alphabet soup. However, as they have often originated out of the “right-wing” media outlets or “conspiracy theory” websites, these allegations have been met with a degree of healthy and warranted scepticism.
Let’s start with what we know for sure — Hillary Clinton’s confirmed medical history:
- Has had multiple falls in the past: 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
- The 2012 fall resulted in a concussion and was later diagnosed as transverse sinus thrombosis (blood clot) which was considered “life threatening” by medical experts and took over six months to recover from
- In January, 2013, her assistant Huma wrote that she was “often confused”.
- Between 2013 and 2016 has consistently been seen wearing prescription fresnel glasses usually associated with brain trauma patients
So, there is some historical evidence of health issues, which could be seen to possibly affect Hillary Clinton’s ability, If elected, to fulfil her role as president.
During August of 2016, for instance, we see two examples of those questions regarding her health being raised.
“… gravely concerned not just about her health, but her health care."
So, does Dr. Drew get his show back now? https://t.co/hMBYgSN7Uu— (((Mark Krikorian))) (@MarkSKrikorian) September 12, 2016
Kindling suspicion in the minds of many, Dr Drew’s show was abruptly cancelled a week later, with some media outlets reporting that Dr Drew was afraid to link his radio comments with the show’s cancellation publicly.
On 21 August, a contributor to the left-leaning Huffington Post, David Seaman, found a well-trending article of his summarily pulled and his access to HuffPo revoked. According to Seaman, the article linked to a highly viewed video made by Paul Joseph Watson (of popular conspiracy theory website infowars.com) which montaged several clips of Hillary Clinton exhibiting odd behaviour, or showing potential signs of ill health.
If you do a Google search for “Huffington Post” and “Hillary Clinton” you can see for yourself that the outlet is, by no means, censoring stories critical about, or exposing negative aspects of, Hillary Clinton. So, why that article in particular? Or rather, why that issue in particular?
So, let’s take a forensic look, so that everyone can make their own informed judgements.
To begin, on 21 July, fronting the press, Hillary Clinton displays an overly exaggerated reaction when a reporter yells out a question from behind her. While I don’t think this is evidence of a seizure, as some have suggested, you can see that she has some difficulty turning her head to the left (our right), marked by the full body turn to address the reporter and the sidelong eyes. If Mrs Clinton has no left lateral rotation, this could be a symptom of muscular stiffness in the neck, thereby causing the over-reaction.
From a different angle:
This video was published to YouTube on 5 August and taken at a Clinton rally in Las Vegas. Protestors in the crowd yelled out something loudly to Clinton, which causes her to freeze momentarily. What’s most interesting about what unfolds is not the vision of Mrs Clinton herself, but rather the immediate, punctual response of her minders.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the minder to the right of the screen vocally coaching her to “keep talking” and various other instructions:
It seems unlikely that in the short amount of time Mrs Clinton pauses, her staff would leap so quickly to her aid unless they were alert to the potential necessity. If you watch Hillary Clinton, a casual observer would more likely draw the conclusion that she’s lost her train of thought. But the team’s response tells a very different story — a medical aide and two security staff are on stage with her within seconds of her pausing, suggesting the fast response was well rehearsed and prepared.
Clinton’s Labor Day speech showed an extended example of one of her “coughing fits”, which have been noted throughout the year.
What is most disturbing in this case is the media coverage, such as this article in The Atlantic, which stated that
‘Hillary Clinton coughed several times …. [and] the episode lasted around 20 seconds.’
As you can see from the video, this is clearly not the case:
Whatever your political affiliation, objective observation of that video shows someone engaged in an unusually long coughing fit.
But, as much of the mainstream media have instructed us:
‘Hillary Clinton is in excellent health, so shut up… ’
A Washington Post journalist went so far as to say that to even question Hillary’s Health was absurd [paywalled].
But then, of course, on 11 September, Hillary Clinton very publicly collapsed:
Note also this video:
Moments before this, Mrs Clinton appears to have been given a standard neurological exam:
Again, the most interesting thing to be observed in the video is not Mrs Clinton herself, but the behaviour of her attending team. It appears well prepared, well-rehearsed and, oddly, very calm.
What followed was a series of incremental updates from the Clinton campaign team as to what had happened. None of the press were permitted to accompany Mrs Clinton and she effectively disappeared for 90 minutes. Her team initially attributed her disappearance to being a “medical episode”, later adding that Mrs Clinton was apparently “over heated and dehydrated”. Further into the afternoon, it was stated that a bug had been going around all her staff. As dusk approached, Mrs Clinton’s doctor finally admitted that her patient had been diagnosed with pneumonia on the previous Friday.
Dr. Lisa R. Bardack, M.D., Clinton's doctor, says the Democratic nominee has pneumonia. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/qloLbhjdZy— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) September 11, 2016
All we know for sure at this stage is that Hillary Clinton has been diagnosed with pneumonia. Whilst this is a serious condition, it is not chronic and would not preclude Clinton from being fit to be U.S. president.
It must be added, questions regarding Donald Trump’s health are equally relevant, as he is even older than Clinton and would, indeed, be the oldest ascendant president in American history. Trump has been equally, if not even more, coy in releasing his full medical documentation. One tantalising partial master showman reveal of a medical summary does not put the issue to rest for him either — far from it.
In the meantime, the American public aren’t the only ones now wondering if Mrs Clinton is physically able to be president:
The United States goes to the ballot box to elect a new president on Tuesday, 8 November 2016.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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