Just days after a poorly timed coughing fit and a well-timed joke about her health, Hillary Clinton’s health is no longer a laughing matter. In recent months, as the campaign trail heated up, Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned Clinton’s health, claiming she looked unwell. The comments caused Clinton to have to frequently dismiss rumors she was unhealthy.
Recently, it was revealed that a doctor diagnosed the presidential nominee with pneumonia on Friday, advising her to take it easy. The illness caught up with Clinton on Sunday when she left a 9/11 memorial service in New York early—and despite the video that caught Clinton struggling to get into her vehicle, she emerged a few hours later, apparently feeling better. But the incident brought to life another issue with this extraordinary campaign—a lack of information.
Barack Obama was 47 years old when he took office in 2008. In the course of eight years, the highly-esteemed office of the Presidency aged him, turning the dignified president gray and wrinkled. The average age of a President is 54 years old. This election, both nominees are significantly over the average age and even over retirement age. Clinton is the younger nominee at 68 years old, while Trump is two years older.
In an election with heightened ages, health becomes a more serious concern. Back in the 2008 election, special attention had to be paid to Sarah Palin, who would become John McCain’s successor in the event that the then-72 year old died in office. Another concern is the difficulties that aging can have with everyday tasks—during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, his wife stepped up to take on certain duties. Should we expect Bill or Melania to be pulling the strings behind the curtain? Now, with two candidates not much younger than McCain, health issues on the forefront and attacks thrown on both sides, the demand for released medical reports becomes paramount. Notably, Clinton has released far fewer medical reports than McCain during his run for president—Trump’s released even fewer than that.
The campaign trail is rough. Anyone who has seen season seven of The West Wing understands the demands of a hard-fought campaign. Constant interviews, speeches, fundraising, shaking hands, posing for photos and deftly answering questions takes a lot out of a person. The fact that Clinton caught pneumonia on the campaign trail is not altogether shocking. However, due to the vicious attacks Trump has slung during the election, it is also not surprising that Clinton didn’t show any signs of weaknesses (i.e. releasing news of her illness and taking it easy) during the pivotal time before November 4th.
The pointed attacks on both sides demand that neither candidate show weakness in any form, which leads to information not being revealed. Today, it’s medical information about pneumonia, prompting both candidates to release their medical records pronto. But what about tomorrow? Where are Donald Trump’s tax statements? Will more pertinent information slowly come out in the next two months or will it be buried in an effort to appear strong in a nasty campaign?