|THE QUESTIONS YOU CAN’T ASK:
This morning Mollie Hemingway went on National Public Radio with Cokie Roberts for Morning Edition, and if you want to know how it went, you can just read this tweet from former Gov. Howard Dean, which he posted during her segment. http://vlt.tc/2jpg The thing is, the hosts couldn’t have done any more to bend over backward and pretend that Hillary Clinton’s health scare is not a big deal. But Roberts for her part brought up top Democrats discussing what would be needed to replace Clinton at the top of the ticket, and you can imagine how that went over with dedicated listeners like Howard Dean.
Donald Trump’s response has been very careful. http://vlt.tc/2jph “I’ll be releasing very, very specific numbers” from a physical exam he underwent in the past week, Trump, 70, said in a phone interview on Fox News on Monday in which he struck a measured tone. He said the report from the exam should be finished this week. “I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know what’s going on,” Trump said. “We have to see what’s wrong.” He said he assumed a coughing fit Clinton had a week ago was the pneumonia that was announced Sunday. Trump said he expected to see Clinton at the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 and that he didn’t think Democrats would replace her as their nominee. In a subsequent interview on CNBC, Trump went further in contrasting his fitness with Clinton’s. “It’s grueling work. There’s no question about it,” Trump said about campaigning. “I find the whole challenge to be very invigorating.”
This feels like a big story. It particularly feels that way because so many members of the media have been lockstep in declaring that it was not a story to this point, that bringing up Hillary’s obvious coughing fits or noting how frail she seems to be sometimes or talking about her admitted concussion was the equivalent of putting on a sandwich board warning people of the dangers of vaccines and chemtrails. And now that her campaign claims that she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, it’s a sign of how badass Clinton is, that she’s a tough cookie to be campaigning with a transmittable disease.
The thing is, Clinton and those close to her have been in the business of lying for so long that it takes shocking footage like yesterday’s incident to even prompt an admission that something is wrong. First the campaign claimed the coughing was just allergies. Then they claimed she was overheated, even though it wasn’t a particularly hot day and she was in the shade. Then they claimed it was dehydration, even though it was early in the morning. Then finally it became pneumonia. And she was fine two hours later, totally fine.
There is one known known that could upset the current trajectory of this campaign – the debates, which are just two weeks away. There is also a known unknown – the health of Hillary Clinton, which appears to now be a much bigger issue than previously admitted. Clinton’s health has been subject to rumors for a long time, ever since her admitted fall and concussion which she used as an excuse in the course of the FBI investigation. But Clinton need not have some debilitating disease to be damaged by this.
Much of her effort to contrast herself with Trump has been a message of transparency – that fine, there’s bad stuff in her recent record, but it’s known bad stuff, of the normal Clintonian variety. Trump is unknown bad stuff, unstable and potentially compromised. But what about the unknowns regarding her health? What if she is physically incapable of being Commander in Chief? And what happens when an obvious media effort that has already been mounting sustained in defense of her takes on an even more extreme character in defense of questions they won’t ask?
The American people will see that for what it is. And for a campaign with more craziness than any in the modern era, it’s not crazy to think they will react to this, and react loudly.