Candidate Hillary Clinton gambles and loses on secrecy
The inescapable conclusion from Hillary Clinton’s health saga is not that she is, as Team Trump continually suggests, too sick and weak to be president. It’s that she and her campaign were hoping to get away with never disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis.
At least now, both camps are pledging to release more medical details about the nominees. But given Clinton’s history of withholding and Donald Trump’s many broken promises regarding transparency, it is doubtful we’ll get enough information to put reasonable questions to rest.
Clinton, 68, has had a few health incidents, but there is no evidence of anything chronically incapacitating. To the contrary, she has shown endurance beyond many younger people — in her August fundraising schedule as well as in her 11 hours of testimony a year ago before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
What’s more, a woman of Clinton’s age can expect to live 18 additional years (four more than a man of Trump’s age, 70). However, pneumonia and influenza are the sixth leading cause of death for white women ages 65 and over. Such a diagnosis should not be taken lightly, nor should a major party presidential nominee hide it from the public.
That’s especially true for a politician who for decades has repeatedly lost battles to protect what she thinks ought to be zones of privacy. Clinton has never been a believer in putting everything out there, coping with the fallout and moving on as quickly as possible. From the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas to her email server and now the pneumonia, it is always drip-drip-drip.
Yet she is the only realistic alternative to Trump, which makes it maddening that she fell right into Trump’s trap. He and his allies cooked up a conspiracy about her dire health, then waited. For the coughing fit. For the stumble. For — jackpot — the pneumonia and what looks like a coverup.
As usual, keeping the public in the dark is not working to Clinton’s advantage. What might have been a brief flurry about a minor health issue has become a media and political frenzy that confirms the widely held and damaging sense that she can’t be trusted.
The fact that Clinton and her advisers haven’t figured this out augers a White House tenure hampered by self-inflicted drama.
In reality, Trump is hiding far more than Clinton. But Clinton herself has done more to obscure that than anyone else, and in the process made this race closer than anyone thought it would be.
While she released a two-page doctor’s letter last year, he has disclosed little beyond a six-paragraph doctor’s letter so Trumpian in its language, it would be funny if it were not the only word voters have on his health.
Trump has released no tax returns, even as his claims of wealth and charitable giving are in question. And there has been no clarity on Melania Trump’s immigration status when she first came to the U.S., though Trump’s hard line on illegal immigration is a pillar of his campaign.
America needs to face facts. Both nominees are seniors, and neither is being straightforward on health. Clinton has the bigger reputation for secrecy. But Trump is master of “do as I say, not as I do.” He has by far the most questions to answer.
Hillary Clinton at the 9/11 ceremony in New York City.