Health questions are fair game, as the media used to acknowledge when John McCain was the Republican nominee. He’d had a melanoma removed years before, and of course there were insinuations pushed by left-wing partisans that his famous temper might be a sign of some deeper imbalance. And he was old! Even older than Hillary. Who is herself not as old as Trump.
One question, though: What serious illness is her cough allegedly a symptom of? Time and again the health questions about her circle back to coughing — Drudge is having endless fun with it today — but without much of a stab at diagnosis. There’s a sort of “underpants gnome” logic to it:
1. She’s coughing again
3. She’s too sick to carry out presidential duties
What disease is she supposedly hiding? The main health concern with Hillary, I thought, was her concussion, which even popped up during her FBI interview as a possible explanation for why she didn’t follow good recordkeeping practices. The cough doesn’t get you anywhere with that, though. Is the idea that she’s hiding some sort of serious thyroid condition, like thyroid cancer? A nagging cough can be associated with that, but supposedly Hillary’s problem is hypothyroidism, which is much less serious. If she has a meaningful health problem it’s going to get much harder to hide it now. She just moved the reporters who are covering her onto her own plane so that they can travel with her, and she’ll be on the trail a ton until Election Day.
The “Hillary’s coughing again!” buzz feels more like a goof to me, just to razz her a bit and put her on the defensive, than it does a critique that voters are supposed to take seriously. Come to think of it, that’s often how Trump’s needling of Obama about his birth certificate used to work back in the day, before Trump clammed up about it. On some level the point was to delegitimize Obama, but at its most basic it was designed to simply force him to answer the charges. If a voter found something meaningful in the Birther stuff, great (for Trump). If he didn’t, no harm done. That’s why Trump could drop the birth-certificate stuff as quickly as he picked it up. At bottom it was just a way to give Obama a hard time — and of course to irritate the media, by being extremely politically incorrect. Same here in needling Hillary over her health. Speaking of which:
Mainstream media never covered Hillary’s massive “hacking”
or coughing attack, yet it is #1 trending. What’s up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2016
Maybe, to Trump, the “Hillary’s coughing again!” stuff is more of a way to give the media a hard time than Clinton. Scroll through his Twitter feed over the last few days, in fact, and you’ll find plenty of media criticism — and plenty of polls, some videos from the trail, a little bit on Obama’s reception in China, a few fan retweets and, oh yeah, the occasional comment on the highly damaging revelations from Hillary’s FBI interview. There are four or five tweets about that tucked in amid all the other claptrap. You’d think a guy with a Twitter following of 11 million people would want to stick to that subject exclusively for awhile, but oh well. As Ben Shapiro says, “Conservatives should be putting far more focused on Hillary’s FBI investigation than Hillary’s walking pneumonia.”
Exit question: How many points would Democrats gain if Hillary suddenly had to be replaced by Tim Kaine at the top of the ticket? Over/under is four.