By Bonnie K. Goodman
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton showed the nation and the world that she might be not healthy enough to be elected president. At the 15th anniversary memorial of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, Clinton collapsed and was dragged into a van by secret service. Clinton’s doctor later said it was pneumonia, and she been diagnosed on Friday, Sept. 9. Clinton has a history of health problems including blood clots and a 2012 concussion while Secretary of State. Throughout the campaign, speculation has increased over the Clinton camp secrecy; Clinton’s multiple coughing fits, and physical stumbles. Clinton is, however, is facing more of a backlash from fellow Democrats than even her opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Clinton arrived at the 9/11 memorial attended by 8,000, but within a little, over an hour she left with her doctor. At first, her campaign claimed the nominee was overheated, but later three videos emerged from those in attendance at the event, including Twitter user Zdenek Gazda showed a different angle of Clinton collapsing and being held up by Secret Service agents. As Clinton was waiting for her motorcade leaning against a poll, then as she tries to walk with the help of Secret Service agents, she appeared “wobbly” stumbling, with her head hanging over, Secret Service seemed to be dragging Clinton into the van.
Clinton went to her daughter Chelsea apartment that is also in lower Manhattan. The Clinton campaign attempted to downplay the incident by releasing a statement. The statement explained,
“For just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen. During the ceremony, she felt overheated so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better.”
Around noon, Clinton emerged from the apartment building making sure to make a media spectacle to show she was fine; she exclaimed to reporters, “I’m feeling great. It’s a beautiful day in New York.” She waved to the press as she went to her campaign van, and responded to a reporter’s question about her health, saying, “Yes, thank you very much.”
Clinton’s personal physician Dr. Lisa Bardack who is also the chairman of internal medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group accompanied Clinton to the memorial and was present through the affair. Later Sunday afternoon, Bardack issued a statement elaborating and now saying Clinton had pneumonia and collapsed as a result. In her statement posted on social media, Dr. Bardack said, Clinton “was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule…. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely.” Afterward, Clinton went to her home in Chappaqua, New York where she is remaining.
The Clinton campaign later announced late Sunday evening, that Democratic nominee would be canceling her California campaign tour, which included some important fundraisers. Clinton was to appear on television as well all of which was scrapped because of her illness. Clinton promised to speak via teleconference at a San Francisco fundraiser, instead, that too was scrapped. Instead, the Clinton campaign is sending husband, former President Bill Clinton to address those fundraisers. So far Clinton is set to return campaigning on Wednesday, Sept. 14, but that is not certain, what is not certain is Clinton will probably not deliver her economic policy address in Nevada as planned. Instead she might deliver in it Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Ohio, battleground states.
The videos of Clinton’s collapse went viral on social media and Twitter the hashtag #HillaryHealth trended, the public mainly Trump supporters called her to drop out, while Bernie Sanders supporters called for the Democratic to replace her with Sanders as the nominee. Many Sanders supporters posted a video of him running to show the 74-year old’s vitality against Clinton multiple health problems on the campaign trail. Besides the videos, pictured were posted by users showing Clinton squeezing her doctor’s hand as is the case for neurological problems. Speculation ran rampant on social media after the pneumonia diagnosis was revealed that possibly Clinton has Parkinson’s. Some of the theories running around were that Clinton used a body double to exit her daughter’s apartment.
The news media was rather quiet on Clinton’s condition and the videos that would make any voter even Democrats reluctant to vote for a candidate that did not seem like they could make it through a term. The chatter on social media was much louder than the presses’. Trump and his campaign refrained from commenting on Sunday, letting the Democrats question Clinton and the longstanding secrecy about her health. Soon Clinton was facing a backlash for her secrecy about her health and not disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis on Friday.
On Monday, Sept. 12, Trump made some remarks about Clinton’s health, but nothing critical. Speaking to told Fox News Trump said, “I really just don’t know. I hope she gets well soon… Something is going on but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we’ll be seeing her at the debate.” Then Trump told CNBC, “They say pneumonia on Friday, but she was coughing very, very badly a week ago, and even before that, if you remember. This wasn’t the first time. So, it’s very interesting to see what is going on.”
The situation was so bad, a liberal journalist David Shuster reported on Twitter, the Democratic operatives were considering a meeting to discuss contingency plans to replace Clinton on the ticket seeing her health as a liability. In the early evening, Shuster tweeted, “Clarification from dem operatives @HillaryClinton pneumonia: Expect emergency DNC meeting to CONSIDER replacement.#HillarysHealth.” Later in the evening Shuster tweeted again, “Dem operative: @HillaryClinton #BasketOfDeplorables, hiding pneumonia for 3 days, + fainting video = ‘unchartered political territory.'” According to Shuster a top Democrat said that they can make plans but the rules only permit the nominee to drop out, writing, “Top dem: ‘we can make contingencies, argue, plead with@HillaryClinton, but DNC bylaws are clear her nominee status now totally up to her.'”
Clinton has had a series of medical problems that spawned speculation during the campaign that she has more serious health issues. Clinton is prone to blood clots having two in 1998 and 2009. In late 2012, she had a concussion and another blood clot this time on her brain just as she was ending her tenure as Secretary of State after fainting from a stomach virus. The concussion has been the major health scare and the source of the speculation about Clinton’s health. In 1998, Clinton started taking blood-thinning medication. The Democratic nominee also has an under active thyroid and takes medication for it. During the campaign, however, Clinton has slipped numerous times, appeared wobbly, leaning on chairs for support during rallies. Then there are her many coughing fits, including one last week, which she blamed on being allergic to Trump.
Presidential candidates and Presidents have a long history of concealing their health problems. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland hid the fact that he had a lump in his throat, having surgery during what was deemed a boating trip. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson had a major stroke that debilitated him for the rest of his presidency leaving wife Edith at the reins. Wilson had a history of small strokes before becoming president, which he also hid.
President Franklin Roosevelt also concealed his dire health condition when he ran for his fourth term in 1944. Roosevelt had Polio and used a wheelchair, which was hidden enough from the public. Then in 1944 his health deteriorated he had “congestive heart failure, hypertension, acute bronchitis and pulmonary disease.” After being reelected Roosevelt died four months into his term. In 1960, John F. Kennedy appeared as a robust, young candidate, but he was concealing chronic back pain, and that he had Addison’s Disease, which required daily steroid shots, the disease gave Kennedy his tan, and his treatment a healthy look.
These presidents were able to conceal their health conditions often dire from the public because the news media either did not know or agreed not to reveal. The smoke and mirrors tricks might have worked in a time before the 24 hours news cycle and social media where a smartphone can make anyone a breaking news citizen journalist. Today, the media and public are demanding both Clinton and Trump release detailed information and reports from their doctor’s about their health. The brief summaries the nominees provided are not good enough because it appears as if they are hiding something more. Now a candidate cannot keep a secret, maintaining the secret becomes more of scandal than the secret itself.