The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Candidate health is necessary concern

Hillary Clinton’s health has recently become the subject of concern for voters after an incident where she had to leave a 9/11 tribute ceremony Sunday. 

Criticism followed as some groups felt she was being unfairly scrutinized for a health problem which is out of her control. 

However, a presidential candidate’s health should be on the mind of voters, and suggesting it is off limits to cover ignores the gravity of occupying the presidential office.

Historical perspective reveals health has always been a point of concern for those who seek the highest office in the land. The most notable example is our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

FDR was diagnosed with polio over a decade before he was elected President in 1932, so to suggest his health held him back would be more than a little disingenuous. 

What is noteworthy about his illness, however, is the extent to which the public knew about it. FDR never wanted to seem incapable to the American people, so he would always stand at public meetings, albeit with the help of a friend and a cane. 

According to his Presidential library’s website, he also made requests to the press not to publish photographs of him in a wheelchair, and the Secret Service was instructed to interfere with any photographers trying to take pictures of him in a weakened state. 

Maybe FDR was just like all of us and wanted some privacy in an aspect of his life he was uncomfortable with; maybe he was prideful and did not want to be thought of as a disabled person. 

A President’s health is important enough that FDR wanted to keep his illness under wraps, much like Clinton seems to be doing. However, such deception can have potentially dangerous results. Such a situation almost happened in the nineties.

On   Monday, the National Review published a story likening Hillary’s lack of transparency to a much more recent presidential hopeful, Paul Tsongas, rather than one buried in the past. 

Tsongas ran in 1992 seeking the Democratic nomination. Tsongas has been treated for lymphoma, a form of cancer, in the eighties, but by the 1992, he claimed he was free of the disease, and his doctor backed him up. He ended up withdrawing from the race after losing ground to Bill Clinton.

In December of 1992, Tsongas revealed he had a new growth in his abdomen that was cancerous. He died before Bill Clinton’s first term ended. 

Tsongas actually pressed Clinton to, “set up a commission to determine what medical information Presidential candidates must disclose” after Clinton won the election, possibly in recognition of his reckless lack of transparency. 

Clinton himself would later go on record in an interview with the New York Times about his health history, stating, “the public has the right to know the condition of the President’s health.”

Still with me? Good. Precedent exists to question the health of the leader of the free world. Hillary Clinton might be trying to project a picture of health, but that projection fell to shambles Sunday when videos of her being assisted into a vehicle. 

Her campaign reported she had overheated, and then revealed she was suffering from pneumonia. The specifics of her illness are largely irrelevant at this point, but the lingering lack of transparency remains. 

It is not unfair to be skeptical of the health of potential presidents. Clinton is subject to just as much review as anyone, though many feel she has been the subject of unfair criticism due to her gender. 

In many aspects, those concerns may be justified, but in terms of health, her gender has no bearing in the conversation. People, that all encompassing word including men, women and everything in between, are subject to illness. 

Illnesses cannot be dismissed when the afflicted is expected to make rational, powerful decisions to shape the country and, in the some cases, the world. 

Electing a President is a four-year commitment to two people, the presidential hopeful and their running mate. Four years can be a long time for medical issues, and candidates’ health should be on the forefront of every voter’s mind. 

Denying the potential severity of sickness with public officials is naive and potentially detrimental to the expectation of who will be running the country.

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Candidate health is necessary concern