We know that the Clintons are world-class deceivers and liars, but one thing they have always been able to count on is for conservatives to overreach with their attacks, sometimes lurching into conspiracy theories more suitable for Lyndon LaRouche. So Hillary had Vince Foster murdered, Bill Clinton ran drugs from the Mena airport, snorted coke from Kim Khardashian’s derriere, partied regularly with Bill Cosby, and cheated relentlessly on his . . . golf scorecard. (You thought I was going to end that sentence with something else, didn’t you?)
Yes, some of these stories were plausible, but the ineffective rodomontade of the right against Clinton meant that when a real scandal was finally nailed down late in his second term, a majority of Americans were suffering from Clinton Scandal Fatigue, and he skated.
Now we’re going through it with Hillary. I’ve wondered about her health for a long while now. We know for certain she suffered a concussion in 2012. She disappears for days at a time from the campaign trail (again this week for four days), apparently to “rest.” Her persistent hacking cough is a curious thing, though my fairly robust throat gets raw sometimes when I’ve been speaking or talking for an extended period. And what was that extra long bathroom break in the primary debate about anyway?
Bill Clinton never did release his health records, and all we have from Hillary is a note from her doctor that she’s in fine shape, which is about as reliable as a note from a no-name auditor in Poughkeepsie that the Clinton Foundation is on the up-and-up. But once again some conservatives are trading on falsified health records or, like Dr. Sean Hannity, MD, suggesting a video from a campaign appearance shows Hillary having a seizure. (I’m not an MD either, but I don’t think that’s a seizure; just another example of Hillary’s unending awkwardness in public.)
The reason to be cautious about running with half-baked theories is that the issue is totally fair game. I’m not sure what is the most effective way of raising the issue of Hillary’s health, but the furious reaction of the Clinton campaign yesterday shows that it must be gaining traction, or showing up in their polls as a weak point, like Reagan’s age in 1984.
One way a reporter might bring it up in a debate is to remind voters of “FDR’s Splendid Deception,” to borrow the title of Hugh Gregory Gallagher’s book about the stagecraft behind concealing FDR’s polio disability for years, and then the massive fraud of the 1944 campaign, when FDR’s health was so bad that extraordinary measures were taken to keep him barely functioning on the campaign trail. (Among other findings in Gallagher’s book: FDR was suffering from clinical depression in 1944.) His handlers knew he was dying, but loyalty to the boss outweighed truthfulness to the American people, which sounds like the Clinton M.O. for sure.
Concealing FDR’s ill-health in 1944, and selecting a running mate (Harry Truman) of little stature, was a highly irresponsible act, mitigated only by the fact that Truman turned out to be pretty good in some important respects (especially the early Cold War). Such deception is totally unacceptable today. “Transparency” and “the Clintons” don’t go together easily in one sentence, except to notice the far distance they keep from one another. The media ought to be more insistent. I know, I know. . .