I wasn’t going to say anything, but then Chuck Schumer confessed: A few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He’s fine now, but still… as an Associated Press report somberly reminded us: “Schumer is in line to be the top Senate Democrat in January with the retirement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.”
So the public has a right to know, right? This time, it’s pneumonia. Who knows what might happen next? And Schumer is the future top dog of Democrats in the US Senate.
When the big news broke about Hillary Clinton having pneumonia, I didn’t think about going public myself. My first reaction was simply personal: a bit of empathy – even a bit of pride. Hillary has it, too! Welcome to the club!
But if Chuck Schumer feels an obligation to inform the public, I should, too. So here goes: I had pneumonia this summer. In healthy people, with proper treatment, it’s not a big deal. Truly. My doctor’s reaction as my symptoms persisted and an intestinal virus joined in: “Bummer.”
It was indeed. And I’ll match my coughing fits against Hillary Clinton’s anytime. Antibiotics are the remedy, if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Antibiotics and rest.
Pneumonia is a stubborn thing, though. If you don’t rest and get treatment, you can get really, really sick. Clinton got dehydrated, stumbled as she left the 9/11 commemoration on Sunday, and the Secret Service folks had to help her into the car. I might’ve stumbled around too, except that most days, I could hardly get out of bed.
Donald Trump – worried, I guess, about competition from someone who is younger than he is and, worse, someone who is a woman – has been gleefully sowing rumors about Clinton’s health for months. So of course all Clinton has to do is sneeze, and his campaign can say, “See? See? Something’s going on!”
And Clinton did much more than sneeze. Coughing fit! Overheating! (I’m surprised Trump didn’t seize on that to make yet another crack about a woman’s bodily functions; maybe all of his wives have been too young to have hot flashes.)
OK. In a perfect world – well, in any presidential campaign but this one – Clinton should have taken a few days off to rest. And when she didn’t, maybe she should have fessed up.
But seriously: can we blame Clinton if she figured that would be like stepping in front of a firing line? So she did what a lot of us do when we have too much to do and we get what we think is a simple, aggravating malady: she sucked it up and plowed on.
The media have way overplayed this story, and I’ve been appalled by some of the coverage. Usually credible reporters were pouting that Clinton wouldn’t let them tag along as she left the 9/11 service and headed to her daughter’s home to get out of the heat and the crowds. We must ferret out the truth!
For pity heaven’s sake. Clinton is a human being, subject to the same common illnesses the rest of us are (Donald Trump being an astonishingly wonderful, healthiest person ever to run for president exception, of course). And she has been campaigning for over a year. Long days. Long nights. Long flights. Shaking hands. All over the country. Stuff happens.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons – behavioral issues, policy issues – to criticize Clinton. And her recent “basket of deplorables” attack on Trump supporters was wrong, insulting, and politically stupid. But pneumonia? Being reluctant to say you have it and feed the conspiracy theories?
Many Americans say they don’t trust Clinton. Many Democrats say they don’t trust her. She herself has contributed to the distrust, but the biggest source is the constant drumbeat, over the years, from Republicans who have fabricated stories about her. Repeat a lie often enough….
This has been an abysmal presidential campaign. The furor about Clinton’s pneumonia shows that things won’t get any better before Election Day.