Bachmann’s Headaches

The Daily Caller’s story on Michele Bachmann’s allegedly “incapacitating” migraine headaches fell well below that paper’s usual standard. While the piece’s tone was sensational, the actual facts alleged were a good deal less so: Bachmann suffers from migraines; she takes medication for them; and she has been briefly hospitalized three times in recent years (it is not clear that any of those “hospitalizations” lasted for longer than a few hours). The Caller’s story is based mainly on information from an anonymous source described as “an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign.” Note that the Caller doesn’t say “former adviser.” It would be interesting to know who this person is.

I agree with Jennifer Rubin’s comments on this story, including her praise of Congresswoman Bachmann’s response. To that, I would add a few observations.

First, while I do not claim to be a close personal friend, I have known Michele Bachmann for some years. I have participated in numerous events with her, have interviewed her both in person and on the telephone, have visited her Congressional office, etc. I have never known her to cancel an appointment or fail to meet a commitment. Moreover, she makes personal appearances virtually every day, and is on television several times a week. If she had a serious health problem, it is inconceivable that it would have failed to become obvious to those who track her activities closely–like, for example, her political opponents.

Second, Michele has more energy than any human being I have ever known. It is, I think, her biggest asset. It would be impossible to maintain a fraction of her level of activity without being in good health.

Third, the Caller’s source says that Bachmann “takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control.” This is perhaps less troubling than the Caller seems to assume. If Bachmann were to get the GOP nomination, and if she received the votes of all those who take pills, while forfeiting to Obama the votes of those who don’t take pills, she would win in a bigger landslide than Reagan-Mondale or Bush-Dukakis.

The United States has had several presidents who were not physically up to the job. Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy come to mind. But nothing in the Caller’s story suggests that Michele Bachmann is in that category or is likely to become so.

One more thing: Karl Rove and others have called on Bachmann to release her medical records. Fair enough; most presidential candidates and many contenders have done that. But, as long as we are talking about medical records, when is Barack Obama going to release his? Obama is a relatively young man and appears to be in good health. Yet, for some reason, he has refused to make public his medical records. Instead, during the 2008 campaign he released a one-page letter from his doctor vouching for his good health, and a few pages of selected test results. There is only one reason why a presidential candidate refuses to release his medical records: there is something in them he doesn’t want us to see.

Whatever the deficiencies of its article on Michele Bachmann may have been, the Daily Caller has opened discussion of a relevant topic: the health of the presidential contenders. So now, let’s continue that discussion: President Obama, where are your medical records?

UPDATE: Bachmann has released a report from Congress’ resident physician which describes her migraine condition and its treatment. This report indicates that Bachmann gets migraines “infrequently” and controls them with two commonly used medications, taken as needed.

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