What’s good for the 68-year-old goose is good for the 70-year-old gander. For at least the past two weeks, Dr. Ben Carson has been demanding that Hillary Clinton release her medical records and not just a statement from her doctor, part of a Team Trump effort to question the Democratic nominee’s health and stamina for the presidency. It’s just “common sense” that an “elderly” candidate like Hillary should provide even more transparency on her medical condition with up-to-the-moment records, Carson tells a Morning Joe panel.
“That would include both major candidates,” Carson says. Willie Geist asks Carson at the end whether Trump should be held to the same standard, noting that he has not released any medical records other than a note from his doctor. “Absolutely,” Carson says, “without question”:
CARSON: I think that somebody who is running for President of the United States particularly if they’re elderly and that would include both major candidates should disclose their medical history. And I’m not talking about from a year ago or two years ago, I’m talking about currently. And I think–
BARNICLE: But the implication–
CARSON: It’s common sense. It makes sense because as people get older things begin to happen to them.
BARNICLE: But the implication from Rudy Giuliani, what do you think about that? Sewing a seed of doubt about a person’s health based upon something he read on the internet.
CARSON: Well you know as a physician, physicians and scientists generally will not make a diagnosis based on something that they see from a long distance. (LAUGHTER) They want to have the facts.
GEIST: And so you would have no diagnosis yourself on Hillary Clinton Dr. Carson?
CARSON: My diagnosis would be that anybody who is elderly should expose their records. And we the people should know what they are. Because it’s a very stressful job. It’s not an 8-hour a day job, it’s 24/7 and we need to make sure that that is taken care of.
GEIST: And you agree Donald Trump should be held to that same standard? Because he hasn’t done that either.
CARSON: Absolutely. Without question.
Carson has been an interesting surrogate in this cycle, no? He appears to operate on his own agenda, and at least appears unconcerned with strategic or tactical thought when talking up Trump. Trump’s other surrogates have been whispering about Hillary’s health for at least a couple of weeks; Carson himself discussed those concerns with Sean Hannity earlier this month. At that time, Carson didn’t object to the long-distance diagnoses offered in the segment, nor did he cite the need for Trump to match that standard:
Those claims are just silly. It’s pretty clear that Hillary was joking around with the head shake about being startled; the reporter is laughing, and later insisted that she wasn’t worried at all. While the panel is offering diagnoses of seizures and brain damage, Carson was curiously silent – even while his gravitas as a neurosurgeon was being used. He also never mentions a need to see Trump’s updated medical records, although one other panelist throws in “and Donald Trump’s as well” just before Hannity throws to the next segment.
Suddenly, though, he’s putting Trump to the same standard, and in the same “elderly” category. Why? Perhaps it’s a realization that he faced a much different audience and tougher panel, which would suggest that Team Trump should keep Dr. Carson on Fox. Or, for those who believe that Trump’s playing eight-dimensional chess, maybe they’re about ready to roll out a comprehensive report on Trump in order to force Hillary to do the same, and hopefully expose a medical condition that will scare voters away from her. Carson could be signaling that attack.
That would actually be a smart play, if Trump’s healthy enough for it … but it probably still wouldn’t work. At the moment, Hillary doesn’t need to play by Trump’s rules — she’s doing very well without directly engaging on his terms, and there’s no reason to think she’d be any more inclined toward medical transparency than she was on financial or constitutional transparency at the State Department. She’ll chalk it up to more conspiracy-theory nonsense at Team Trump, and the same media who demanded John McCain’s full medical records in 2008 will suddenly become defenders of privacy and modesty — and Hillary knows she can count on that. It still wouldn’t be a bad marker to lay down now, in case it might have some impact later. Let’s hope that’s what they had in mind.