Now that it’s clear she won’t be indicted or jailed before the November election, opponents of Hillary Clinton are peddling a story that she is gravely ill and thus unfit to serve as president.
These arm-chair doctors–none of whom have medical degrees or ever seen Clinton’s medical records–have concluded that she has Parkinson’s disease, a chronic progressive nervous disease marked by tremors, weakness of resting muscles, and a shuffling gait.
The speculation ramped up when Clinton almost fainted at a 9/11 memorial event–caused by her walking pneumonia, according to her doctor–and her opponents started imagining symptoms of the disease from every misstep or anomaly.
Does Clinton have Parkinson’s? How would I know, I’m not a doctor. But I can play this game too, and that leads me to question the mental health of her main opponent, Donald Trump.
Trump has long promised to release a full medical report on his health, but like a lot of his other promises, he hasn’t kept this one either. He tried to settle the issue with a hastily written letter from his long-time physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, in December that was widely mocked and ridiculed. So Trump decided to try again recently with a more detailed letter based on a recent physical exam.
He used the syndicated television show of Dr. Mehmet Oz to reveal the information. Oz has been widely criticized for his endorsement of several questionable alternative medical treatments, and members of the faculty at the New York University School of Medicine protested recently when administrators tried to hire Oz to teach a class.
Oz is known to be a supporter of Republican candidates, and said before Trump’s appearance he wasn’t going to ask any embarrassing questions. That’s the kind of platform Trump needed to gloss over any medical problems he might have.
As it turned out, Trump’s medical report consisted of the standard lab and other tests people are given when they have a routine medical exam. The lab results disclosed by Bornstein put Trump in the acceptable range for men his age, and the doctor pronounced him to be in “excellent physical health.”
Bornstein said Trump is blessed with good genes because his father lived into his 90s and his mother into her 80s (but he didn’t mention that Trump’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease in his late 80s), and reported The Donald has “extraordinary” strength and stamina, but provided no objective measurements to support the opinion.
The letter didn’t mention mental status or summarize any neurological exams, an area of concern for many people given his sometimes bizarre behavior during the campaign. He has a history that suggests we take a more careful look at his mental health.
Trump has a well documented history of philandering, both before and during his first two marriages. He’s bragged about his playboy days and once told shock jock Howard Stern that avoiding venereal disease was “my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very proud soldier,” he said of the time he got a deferment from serving in the military during Vietnam because of a bone spur in one of his heels–he can’t remember which one.
But you never know–he may not have been as successful dodging VD as he’d like to believe. Syphilis, for example, can go undetected for long periods of time, working its way into organs like the brain and the heart. When it gets into the brain, it can trigger unusual behavior: Inability to pay attention or concentrate, spur-of-the-moment outbursts or fits of anger, bizarre and reckless charges against other people.
Do those symptoms remind you of any candidate for president? Me too. I’ll remain skeptical of The Donald’s mental health until I see the result of a rigorous neurological exam and evidence that he is free of venereal disease.