Politics & Policy

Hillary Clinton, Allergic to Transparency

(Reuters photo: Jim Bourg)

Somewhere in the afterlife, William Henry Harrison is having a good laugh.

That a woman on the precipice of 70 should have some health problems is neither surprising nor particularly concerning. That the leading presidential candidate should be so consistently dishonest and secretive about her health — and that this should be part of a broader, deeper, and much more worrisome pattern of dishonesty and secrecy — is a matter of legitimate public and political concern.

The pattern of denial from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s media minions after her collapse following a September 11 memorial event was typical. First, they denied that anything happened. When confronted with video evidence that something had happened, they suggested that the video might not be legitimate. When it became clear that the video was legitimate, they suggested that it didn’t show what it plainly did show, and staged a walk for the cameras to illustrate the candidate’s vigor. They said that Mrs. Clinton had overheated — on a mild September day — and, when this was questioned, produced a diagnosis of pneumonia from the day before yesterday.

There is no way to interpret the actions of the Clinton campaign on Sunday as anything other than furtive. This is not what transparency and forthrightness look like.

Mrs. Clinton has had a good run characterizing her opposition and critics as a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” even though the claims made by the original so-called conspirators turned out to be true. Mrs. Clinton perversely encourages dark speculation about her activities and her motives by treating every last detail of her life as though it were a covert operation. That, along with the obvious concerns about the security of classified information, is what is so vexing about her e-mail shenanigans: There was no reason for that private server except the evasion of ordinary oversight. In a similar vein, who really thinks that Mrs. Clinton or her campaign would have been forthcoming about her pneumonia (assuming that they are being forthcoming) if not for the happy accident of an amateur videographer?

It is not unreasonable to think that Mrs. Clinton is lying about her health. It is not unreasonable to think that she is lying about any particular thing, given that she lies about more or less everything more or less constantly.

POLL: Is Hillary Hiding Something about Her Health?

John McCain, who has relatively serious health problems (some of them acquired in the most honorable fashion), as a presidential candidate was admirably transparent about his medical conditions, which were one factor among many that people could have considered when voting for him. That is the standard to which Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump should be held. Neither candidate should have very much to fear from that: It would take a truly remarkable set of medical circumstances (persistent lycanthropy, for instance) for either candidate’s health report to constitute the most worrisome aspect of his or her presidential prospects.

Trump plans, in very Trumpian style, to release the results of a recent physical on the Dr. Oz program. We hope that it will be a little more substantive than the earlier list of superlatives from Dr. Harold Bornstein, the zany physician who has added so much merriment to this year’s election.

We have no doubt that Mrs. Clinton can produce a full and honest medical report in the same way she produced the billing records of the Rose law firm: if and when it suits her. But despite her campaign’s shockingly successful effort to cow the media into forgoing investigation of the question, her health is a real issue and ought to be investigated as such. If anything, her secrecy regarding the matter should whet the appetites of self-respecting journalists, if any are left on the Clinton beat.

We’d be grateful if Mrs. Clinton would start telling the truth about her health. We’d be grateful if she’d start telling the truth about a good deal more than that, too. 


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