More de­tail on Clin­ton’s, Trump’s health

Can­di­dates’ med­i­cal records

The Daily Herald - - OPINION - By Bloomberg View ed­i­tors

Like all of us, Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump are go­ing to die. Will it be in the next four years? Prob­a­bly — ideally — not. But for vot­ers, that’s a rea­son­able ques­tion, es­pe­cially given that Clin­ton is 68 and Trump, 70. Un­for­tu­nately, the can­di­dates have re­fused to di­vulge the kind of in­for­ma­tion that would en­able any­one to ar­rive at an in­formed opin­ion about their health.

Ci­ti­zens weigh many fac­tors when se­lect­ing a pres­i­dent, and health is a le­git­i­mate one. If a can­di­date is push­ing past the tra­di­tional re­tire­ment age, and es­pe­cially if vot­ers have con­cerns about his or her vice-pres­i­den­tial pick, health may weigh heav­ily. That was the case for some Amer­i­cans in 2008, when Sen. John McCain — who was 72 on Elec­tion Day — chose Sarah Palin as a run­ning mate.

McCain, how­ever, al­lowed re­porters to see eight years and more than 1,000 pages of his med­i­cal records. The pub­lic learned de­tails about his bouts with skin can­cer, kid­ney stones, an en­larged prostate and other con­di­tions. That level of trans­parency was un­usual, but given Clin­ton and Trump’s age, it should be their model.

In­stead, both have re­leased only per­func­tory let­ters from their per­sonal doc­tors, lack­ing in de­tail. Clin­ton’s doc­tor pro­vided at least some in­for­ma­tion on her med­i­cal his­tory and cur­rent vi­tal signs, sim­i­lar to what Barack Obama re­leased in 2008. But Obama was then only 46. And just four years ago, Clin­ton suf­fered “a ter­ri­ble con­cus­sion that re­quired six months of very se­ri­ous work to get over,” ac­cord­ing to her hus­band.

Trump’s doc­tor is­sued an even shorter let­ter call­ing Trump’s blood pres­sure and un­spec­i­fied lab re­sults “ex­ceed­ingly ex­cel­lent.” He ended the let­ter by declar­ing, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state un­equiv­o­cally, will be the health­i­est per­son ever elected to the pres­i­dency” — giv­ing new mean­ing to the term “spin doc­tor.” Trump has tweeted that he has “no prob­lem” re­leas­ing de­tailed med­i­cal records, but so far has not done so.

Vot­ers have learned to take doc­tors’ notes with a dose of skep­ti­cism, ever since a doc­tor who had treated Paul Tsongas, a 1992 con­tender for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, with­held in­for­ma­tion about his his­tory with can­cer. By the time Bill Clin­ton took the oath of of­fice the fol­low­ing year, Tsongas was back to bat­tling can­cer. He died days be­fore Clin­ton’s first term ex­pired.

That prompted calls for an in­de­pen­dent com­mit­tee of med­i­cal ex­perts to re­view can­di­dates’ med­i­cal records and re­lease sum­mary re­ports. Noth­ing came of it — though it re­mains a good idea, if still un­likely to hap­pen.

Man­dat­ing such dis­clo­sure would be a step too far; it might not even be con­sti­tu­tional. But vot­ers should de­mand that Clin­ton and Trump be more forth­com­ing.

The above ed­i­to­rial ap­pears on Bloomberg View,

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