We know this much, our political system is deathly ill. Check its pulse. Hold a mirror up to its face. It’s time to put some pennies on those eyes.
After a weekend where Hillary Clinton looked liked she’d wandered into a technicolor poppy field and Donald Trump (colored and coiffed something like that cowardly lion, but less lacking courage than humility) managed to stop suggesting she was on death’s door, the campaigns shared just a little about their health.
They just didn’t pull that curtain back all the way.
We now know this much: Trump takes a statin to lower his cholesterol and needs to lose a few pounds. Clinton is getting over a bout of pneumonia, but scans of her brain appear to show no effects from a concussion of a few years ago. But the revelations didn’t give real insight to the candidates’ health. It was cherry-picked stuff intended to calm people, not exhaustive records that would show what sort of medical risks the two elderly candidates — he’s 70, she’ll turn 69 next month — face in the coming years.
The closest we came to drama was the canned version that takes place when one TV star sits down with another, this time on the “Dr. Oz Show.” Swell.
“If your health is as strong as it seems from your review of systems, why not share your medical records? Why not—,” asked the eponymous physician.
“Well, I really have no problem in doing it,” Trump replied. “I have them right here.”
Puh-leeze. Even by the standards of this year’s reality TV campaign to be the next leader of the free world, the faux suspense was a bit rich. Trump’s campaign had see-sawed for the past week or so about whether it would release more than the much-mocked letter from his gastroenterologist declaring the pudgy 70-year-old would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” When Clinton spilled out a little more of her medical information, he had to give up something.
So there was Trump in the studio with Oz hinting he had more to share after getting a physical last week.
“I mean, Should I do it? I don’t care” — palms open to the studio audience. Applause.
“It’s two letters. One is the report and the other is from Lennox Hill Hospital.”
“May I seem them?” Oz asks.
“These are the reports from …”
“Those,” Trump says, “were all the tests that were just done last week.”
Trump’s appearance on the set of “Dr. Oz” was set to air on Thursday, but the show and interviews with audience members leaked some spoilers that spoiled nothing. Except, perhaps, conventional thinking about diet and exercise.
Trump reportedly said he feasts on fast food because at least he knows whats in it (never mind that what’s in it is the problem.) And he described his exercise regime. Primarily, it seems, the candidate’s workouts consist of, um, talking. See, when he talks, he waves his hands, burning through calories the way his Twitter account bench presses insults.
“I’m up there using a lot of motion. I guess in its own way, it’s a pretty health act.”
The setting for all his healthy talk gave the world a chance to revisit the history of Oprah’s doctor and how Mehmet Oz has sometimes drifted from orthodoxy. His TV audience has declined since he came under criticism in some quarters for getting too enthusiastic about unproven therapies.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Mike Barnicle found Trump’s visit to the land of Oz just another chapter in a campaign playing out on a soundstage.
“This is a floating con game masquerading as a presidential election,” he said.
Meantime, ever since her near-collapse at Ground Zero on Sunday, Trump had largely laid off the questions he’d earlier raised about Clinton’s health and “stamina.” On Wednesday night, he could resist no more. While he could yammer on for an hour — it’s his workout, remember — he doubted she could give long speeches the way he does.
At the National Review, conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg blasted Clinton surrogates, and those reporters he thinks have tried to dismiss too quickly questions about her health.
“As this pneumonia episode demonstrates, Clinton’s real problem isn’t her health but the entirely valid perception that she’s dishonest, secretive, and exploits ‘the system’ — including the support of the mainstream media — for her benefit,” Goldberg wrote.
Clinton withered under much-earned criticism after her inability to remain upright while waiting to get into a van on Sunday became public only because some random video happened to capture the moment. The campaign had, until then, kept her pneumonia under wraps. Afterward, it said she was just powering through her illness.
Milton Wolf, the Olathe physician candidate who lost a primary challenge to Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts two years ago, was among those on the right frustrated at the Clinton campaign’s shifting explanations. First she was overheated. Then dehydrated. Then there was pneumonia being passsed around within the campaign staff.
In any event, Clinton was back on the campaign trail on Thursday with a watching press looking for any wobble in her walk or frog in her throat.