Pneu­mo­nia-gate’s true in­sight

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

It didn’t take long for pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics to over­shadow the com­mem­o­ra­tions of the 15th an­niver­sary of 9/11 on Sun­day — in fact, Hil­lary Clin­ton couldn’t even fin­ish the remembrance event at ground zero in New York City be­fore mak­ing the news.

Of course most prob­a­bly know now of the story that will likely be­come Pneu­mo­nia-gate: Clin­ton was at the 9/11 remembrance cer­e­mony at the Na­tional Septem­ber 11 Me­mo­rial & Mu­seum when she was forced to leave early, stum­bling on her way to her car and hav­ing to be sup­ported by Se­cret Ser­vice agents. Af­ter sev­eral hours of play­ing cat-and­mouse, hid­ing from her press corps, Clin­ton’s camp was forced to dis­close that she had been di­ag­nosed with pneu­mo­nia on Fri­day but de­cided to hold her reg­u­lar sched­ule. That de­ci­sion of course would later be re­gret­ted as the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee grew weaker and was forced to take a few days off to rest.

Clin­ton’s health has been a hot topic for months for con­ser­va­tive con­spir­acy the­o­rists, who an­a­lyze pho­tos for claimed symp­toms of dif­fer­ing dis­eases. Her Repub­li­can op­po­nent, Don­ald Trump, has only played upon those the­o­ries by ques­tion­ing Clin­ton’s “stamina” and drawing at­ten­tion to her cough­ing bouts. Her fail­ure to dis­close this lat­est bout only in­flamed those the­o­ries while drawing more un­wanted at­ten­tion to her trans­parency — Clin­ton’s big­ger prob­lem.

Most vot­ers have not been moved by ques­tions about her health: 74 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers said they were un­con­cerned about her be­ing healthy enough to carry out the job of pres­i­dent, a Fox News poll last month found.

How­ever, trust­wor­thi­ness con­tin­ues to be Clin­ton’s great­est weak­ness. About six in 10 vot­ers said they did not trust her, nearly the same per­cent­age who said they dis­trusted Trump, ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Post/ABC News poll re­leased last week.

“An­tibi­otics can take care of pneu­mo­nia. What’s the cure for an un­healthy pen­chant for pri­vacy that re­peat­edly cre­ates un­nec­es­sary prob­lems?” David Ax­el­rod, a for­mer ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Obama, wrote on Twit­ter, echo­ing the thoughts of many of Clin­ton’s sup­port­ers and crit­ics alike.

Clin­ton has been no­to­ri­ous for her lack of trans­parency, which some say is a re­sult of dis­trust of the me­dia bred from in­tense scru­tiny dur­ing her hus­band’s pres­i­dency and her time at Sec­re­tary of State. Dur­ing the cur­rent cam­paign, she has not held press con­fer­ences where the me­dia could ask her ques­tions and only this month al­lowed me­dia to fly with her to cam­paign stops. She has given very few one-on-one, on-cam­era in­ter­views over the course of the cam­paign, pre­fer­ring in­stead to give stump speeches to sup­port­ers and ap­pear­ing on late night TV shows.

In con­trast, although he has also failed to dis­close many facts about his cam­paign or detail his pol­icy pro­pos­als, Trump has fre­quently an­swered ques­tions from re­porters and sat for on-cam­era in­ter­views.

Those who are close to the chic for­mer first lady rave about her hu­mor and com­pas­sion, but most of us in the elec­torate only get to see the cold and dis­tant ver­sion of Clin­ton. Her veil of se­crecy only in­flames the con­cerns that she is hid­ing more than she claims and pushes her far­ther away from the com­mon cit­i­zen.

Pneu­mo­nia-gate is just the lat­est ex­am­ple of how Clin­ton will have to open up to the pub­lic, and in turn the me­dia, if she wants to win in Novem­ber.

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