“Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”
That was former Barack Obama chief campaign strategist David Axelrod’s Twitter reaction to Hillary Clinton’s near-collapse as she was entering a van after a September 11 memorial in New York.
Coming from Axelrod, it is a clear shot across Clinton’s bow coming directly from the Democrat Party establishment as rumors begin to swirl about replacing her atop the party’s ticket in November.
The Clinton campaign’s explanation is that she had seasonal allergies leading to a cough, and then pneumonia which led to heat exhaustion at the ceremony on Sunday. But, based on her actions, it is clear that but for the Twitter video showing her wobbling and falling forward into her van amid Secret Service and personal handlers attempting prevent her from hitting the pavement, the American people would almost certainly never have heard about this episode.
How do we know that? Clinton’s destination after her fall was to her daughter Chelsea’s residence, not to a hospital to treat heat exhaustion, which the New York Post reports was to avoid media exposure. The heat exhaustion explanation was only in response to disclosure of the video, and the bout of pneumonia was not included in the official explanation until hours after that. They were going to cover it up. What if it had been a much more serious condition?
That is not a conspiracy theory. That’s what happened. Clinton was comfortable with failing to disclose a major medical episode even as questions on her health and fitness to serve as commander-in-chief were dogging the campaign. And her campaign only came forward when the truth could not be denied.
What else might the campaign be hiding? Did Clinton lose consciousness? Does she have any other ailments? How often does she fall? In 2012, Clinton had another fall and suffered a concussion. Soon thereafter, she had a blood clot in the brain that was treated. Is that everything?
Nowadays, we tend to romanticize past presidents’ ailments — and how the mainstream media tended to cover them up — such as Franklin Roosevelt’s polio or John Kennedy’s battle with extreme pain and anxiety along with the powerful cocktails of drugs he took. The way these are often portrayed is that the illness did not affect the policies or performance of these presidents. But is that really true?
Consider Woodrow Wilson, who in 1919 suffered a severe stroke and was incapacitated for the remainder of his presidency. It was covered up, only to be pieced together later by historians, but if the 25th Amendment had been in place then it is highly possible he would have been deposed by his Cabinet for being physically and mentally unable to fulfill his duties of office.
These matters were and are so serious that countermeasures were put in place into the Constitution itself.
So, if the future president was going to have a potentially fatal illness, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
For Clinton, the issue could become a major headache going forward, particularly if voters perceive that she and her campaign sought to mislead the public about her health. In this case, Axelrod is right. Her illnesses can be treated, but the public faith and trust, once lost, will not easily recover.
This is a guest post by Robert Romano senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.
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