Former President Bill Clinton was ordered to take center stage for the Hillary Clinton campaign yesterday under the assumption that the master communicator would help stop the hemorrhaging over Sec. Clinton’s collapse and the campaign’s subsequent handling of her apparent health problems.
However, instead of making things better, Clinton’s interview with Charlie Rose on CBS News only raised more questions about his wife’s health and about the campaign’s ability to keep their story straight:
Let’s start with the “everybody’s getting pneumonia these days” message:
“She’s doing fine, she was even better last night before she went to sleep. She had a good night’s sleep she’s doing fine. We’ve gotten all these, as you might imagine, emails and text messages and calls. A friend of ours called and left a message today, that her husband had actually just been hospitalized for pneumonia apparently there’s a lot of it going around and a bunch of her staff has gotten sick. But she’s just doing fine. She just got dehydrated yesterday.”
Now this, obviously, is an attempt to downplay the harrowing episode everyone in the world witnessed with the Democratic Party’s nominee losing control of her extremities and needing to be tossed into a waiting van to be rushed away from onlookers and pesky citizens with smartphone video cameras.
If “there’s a lot of it going around” then Mrs. Clinton has merely caught a bug or something. I mean, who among us hasn’t gotten sick when one of those bugs is going around? This is clearly what Pres. Clinton is trying to convey.
But, in this case, the bug that’s “going around” is a non-contagious form of pneumonia, according to the campaign.
In fact, that is exactly what campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said yesterday, hours before Clinton said “there’s a lot of it going around.” (Politico)
“She is not contagious, she’s been told by her doctors,” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said during a round of TV interviews. “She was playing with her grandkids yesterday and they don’t have anything to worry about because she’s not contagious at this point.”
Even if it was contagious, as the Huffington Post explains, it’s very difficult to give pneumonia to another person.
Most cases of pneumonia are contagious, but it’s not common for people with pneumonia to give it to other people. Instead, the initial bacterial, viral or fungal infection may be passed from one person to another, causing some people to go on to develop pneumonia. And within 24 to 48 hours of treatment with antibiotics or another appropriate medicine, a person’s risk for passing the initial infection on to others goes down greatly or is even eliminated, according to Dr. David Beuther, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver.
So why pretend this is something “going around”? Clearly it’s to make any underlying cause of Mrs. Clinton’s collapsing episode or the alleged pneumonia. If it’s something “going around” then there’s no reason for anyone to ask any other questions regarding a larger health problem.
In fact, when pressed on the possibility that a larger health problem may have caused Sec. Clinton’s collapse, the former president’s damage to the ongoing narrative surrounding Hillary’s health continued.
Now, this next passage does not appear, in it’s entirety, in the video provided by and broadcast on the CBS Evening News, but their own article accompanying the interview at CBSnews.com has this full quote:
Asked if there was any chance her faintness on Sunday could be a sign of some more “serious” illness, Clinton said he did not believe that was the case.
“Well if it is, it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors,” he said, “because frequently—well not frequently, rarely—but on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing happened to her when she got severely dehydrated.”
Again, the video does not include the preamble of Clinton’s bizarre remark. The “frequently – well not frequently” portion was omitted but CBS News provided it in their write-up. (By the way… WHY was that portion omitted, CBS?)
Let’s parse this statement for a moment because it puts into focus exactly the problem the Clinton campaign finds themselves dealing with:
Asked if there was a more serious illness underlying his wife’s public collapse, Clinton said this kind of episode happened, “frequently, not frequently, rarely but on more than one occasion” over the years.
The Clinton campaign, with their half-truths, lack of transparency, history of obfuscation and outright paranoid lies have boxed themselves into a peculiar dilemma in answering this particular question and it is displayed perfectly by the former president’s mangled response.
If this episode was rare, as Clinton came close to suggesting, then why wasn’t she rushed to the hospital? Why was the response to send her out 90 minutes later to wave to the press and pretend nothing was wrong? If it was a rare occurrence, why was the campaign (and, presumably the candidate) less concerned with investigating why this harrowing event happened and more concerned with sending Sec. Clinton out with no escorts to show that everything was fine?
And, if it is a rare occurrence, how can they be so sure there is not a more serious underlying medical condition? After all, this is a 68-year-old woman who, according to the campaign, suffers from severe allergies, deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in her brain and is on antihistamines and blood thinners. If, out of the blue, she collapses as she did, and it is a rare occurrence, then the proper response would e to run a series of tests to see if there was some underlying cause for this episode.
Which brings us to Clinton’s initial, corrected response to Charlie Rose.
“Well if it is, it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors, because frequently—well not frequently…”
This was his initial answer to Rose when asked if there could be a more serious medical condition causing his wife’s episode.
If this sort of thing happens “frequently” then there is obviously a known, underlying cause for the episodes that he and many people on the campaign are aware of but have not disclosed to the American public.
You see the box canyon they’re caught in, right?
If what we saw on Sunday was a rare occurrence, then the Clinton campaign is behaving in a very bizarre way by immediately sending her out for a photo-op and then by writing the whole thing off as “dehydration due to pneumonia.” Any other 68-year-old woman who suffered a rare, collapsing episode like this would be going through extensive tests at a hospital to get to the bottom of the problem.
If what we saw was something that happens so frequently that Sec. Clinton’s husband nonchalantly writes the whole thing off with no real, genuine concern and her campaign felt so blasé about the event that they were fine bypassing the hospital and sending her out to wave to the media to show that everything was fine, then clearly there is an underlying cause that has made these episodes so common to trigger such a reaction.
Either way, they’re stuck.
Former President Clinton may have intended to make the issue go away by utilizing his charm and “aw-shucks” attitude, but this story just got even more politically untenable for the Clinton campaign, didn’t it?