On Sunday, after traveling, delivering a speech, standing for pictures, and attending a security briefing, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE had to bow out and rest. Her physicians later confirmed the Democratic presidential nominee had pneumonia.
The diagnosis brought the trolls out in force, laying accusations and conspiracies about her health in a naked attempt to undermine public confidence in her readiness to take office. It’s also the first time in recorded history Republicans have shown any sort of concern for women’s health. Maybe it’ll catch on and we can finally stop the annual attempts to defund Planned Parenthood again. Who knows?
Here’s the deal.
Most of the people talking trash about Clinton’s health would be in a coma after one week of a Presidential election campaign schedule. It is non-stop, with sixteen, eighteen, and twenty-hour days for more than a year. There is no break. There is no rest. You are traveling, cramming policy papers, attending security briefings, prepping for and staging mock debates (unless you’re Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE), giving speeches, and surrounded by press every waking moment. You can’t make a mistake. You can’t make an off-color comment (also doesn’t apply to Trump). You never have a moment’s privacy. You are surrounded by advisors, pollsters, reporters, and bodyguards 24/7. It is exhausting. The levels of physical, mental, and emotional stress a Presidential candidate endures in their run for the office are hard for anyone outside of a campaign to even contemplate.
The truth is Clinton is a 68-year-old running around the country in a pantsuit at a pace that would leave most people half her age screaming for mercy in a matter of days. She got sick. She’s human.
And while pneumonia is a serious illness that deserves close attention and appropriate care, it is also a common disease and one that is easily treated. What this glorified chest-cold isn’t and never was is any sort of tip off or alarm that Clinton is anything but a person whose body and immune system has been under months of constant stress. It’s not a chronic condition, and it’s not a symptom of a more serious underlying illness or medical issue.
And what’s more, not even the pneumonia has slowed her down much. It’s likely that she’d been fighting it for days (remember the coughing fit she chalked up to a Trump allergy?) before it finally brought her down enough to impact her schedule. Personally, I can barely do laundry with a hangover at the tender age of thirty-six, but here’s Clinton pounding the campaign trail twenty hours a day for a week before succumbing to the need for a breather. That’s not frailty, that someone who is tough as nails. She’s didn’t even cancel today’s California fundraising event, choosing instead to attend via teleconference.
But instead of dealing with the news like rational adults, the right-wing fever swamps boiled over with long-simmering conspiracies about Clinton’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease, while conveniently ignoring the fact most of these same people venerate a man whose own son said he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s even before beginning his second term. Or the ridiculous rumor that Clinton has been using a body double at rallies to hide her illness.
There is more than a little sexism on display in the right’s attack on Clinton’s health and their effort to paint her as physically weak, frail, and withering. It’s an attempt to try and move public perception of her into that of a shuffling old grandmother, too feeble for the demanding work of the Presidency. Nevermind that she’s one of the toughest, smartest, and sharpest policy minds in D.C. and has been for many years. Nevermind that she sat through eight solid hours of Congressional questioning during the Benghazi hearing, pointedly and lucidly answering every insipid question thrown at her in an impressive demonstration of mental and emotional endurance.
No man has ever been subject to this kind of scrutiny over their health. In case you forgot, we elected a man who actively hid his confinement to a wheelchair during his presidency.
He guided us out of the Great Depression and beat the Nazis. We only stopped reelecting him because he died, and even then, we elected his Vice President. We had to pass the 22nd Amendment to make sure nobody else got elected that many times.
We also elected a man with debilitating back pain. He bedded Marilyn Monroe, made Nikita Khrushchev blink during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and put America on the moon despite having been dead for seven years.
So I guess what I’m saying is, if you want a great President, you could do worse than a sick Democrat.
Clinton will recover from her temporary illness, the campaign will grind on towards November, and this will all be forgotten after a few news cycles by everyone except those desperate few who are praying for outside intervention to derail Clinton’s candidacy. That’s all the chants of “Lock Her Up” were two months ago, and that’s all the conspiracies surrounding her health are now. They know full well that their candidate can’t beat her on a level playing field. Their only hope for salvation lay in the highly unlikely event Clinton is forced to drop out. Well, sorry kiddies, but the FBI couldn’t save you before, and bacteria isn’t going to save you now. Trump is going to have to face her in the debates, where he is going to be publicly eviscerated.
In the end, the American people are less worried about Secretary Clinton’s symptoms of physical illness than they are about Donald Trump’s symptoms of mental illness. You can treat pneumonia. You can’t cure narcissism, egomania, or compulsive lying.
At least not by November.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.