Five months ago, Bernie Sanders pledged to release all his medical records because “the American people have the right to know.” Now, suddenly, it’s a slippery slope. “I mean,” Sanders tells Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, you can start releasing medical records and it never ends.”
Does any of this sound a bit … familiar?
CHUCK TODD: In September of 2019, before your heart incident, you had said the following about your medical records. Take a listen.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: [taped] I think it’s the right thing to do. The American people have the right know whether the person they’re going to be voting for for president is healthy, and we will certainly release our medical records before the primaries. It will certainly be before the first votes are cast. [end tape]
CHUCK TODD: The first votes have already been cast, you did not release your medical records. You released a few letters. Nobody interviewed your doctors. You did have a heart attack, apparently. Shouldn’t voters see your medical records —
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We have released as much —
CHUCK TODD: — before Super Tuesday?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: — documentation, I think, as any other candidate.
CHUCK TODD: But no other candidate has had a heart attack.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, look, I am — yeah, no other candidate’s doing four or five events a day, running all over this country —
CHUCK TODD: I hear you. No, you have proven —
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We are —
CHUCK TODD: — I mean, no doubt, you’ve proven your mettle here. But voters, you heard voters have been concerned about your age.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I mean, you can start releasing medical records and it never ends. We have released a substantive part — all of our background. We have doctors who have — cardiologists who are confirming that I am in good health. I am in good health.
CHUCK TODD: What changes have you — did the doctors ask you to make that you’ve made?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I’m trying to walk a little bit more, but the schedule doesn’t allow me. They didn’t say — I’m trying to sleep a little bit better, sometimes that’s hard. But I’m feeling great. Thanks.
CHUCK TODD: My guess is winning will help you sleep a little bit better?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Winning will make me sleep a lot better, and I think we’re going to do just that.
Usually, politicians wait until after getting into office before reneging on campaign pledges. They almost always wait until after getting the nomination. Bernie’s breaking new ground by breaking his promise before the first primary even takes place. What an innovator!
The reason this sounds familiar is that Donald Trump did almost exactly the same thing four years ago with his tax returns. Early in the primary, Trump said he’d release his returns before voters went to the polls, only later to change his mind. Trump argued at the time — and is still arguing — that his mandated disclosure forms were sufficient and that document demands wouldn’t end with his tax returns. All that voters needed to know was that he wasn’t a crook, Trump argued, and Bernie’s arguing now that all voters need to know is that doctors think he’s healthy.
Funny thing about populists and transparency, eh?
Of course, when a candidate has a heart attack in the middle of a campaign, that does tend to make the medical-records issue a bit more acute. It’s also curious that this reversal took place after the heart attack, which makes it look like Sanders has something to hide. It might be important to know whether your presidential candidate pays his proper taxes, but it’s somewhat more critical to know whether your presidential candidate is healthy enough for the job — especially when he’s already nearly 80 years old. Will Democrats insist on full transparency here with personal records — maybe led by the party leadership that’s already dreading a Sanders nomination for other reasons?