Hillary Clinton has got pneumonia. She got a bit wobbly at the 9/11 memorial service early yesterday, feeling rubbish and seeing a doctor. This, apparently, is news. It’s news in America because her opponent Donald Trump will make an issue out of her health and imply or even directly say that her physical condition makes her unfit to hold office as president of the USA. This is low level politics, but would you honestly expect anything else from Trump?
It may come as a surprise to the likes of Trump to learn that people do get ill, even contenders for political high office. For all we know, Trump himself may have had issues over the year although so far he has refused to publish his medical records.
It’s news in America all right because at present the polls show Trump is only 3.1% behind Clinton. If her opponents can paint her as being in poor health, the theory is less people will vote for her and more will vote for Trump. That’s the level of debate in American politics.
As ever, this was a problem that could have been avoided from the start. It was known as early as Friday that Clinton was ill but it took until yesterday to admit what was wrong with her and it was only when she had a wobbly moment her spin doctors came clean. If they had said, right from the start, that she had pneumonia, that it was being treated, that she would attend the 9/11 memorial but only for a short while, that would have been that. In fact, she’d have been congratulated for attending despite such discomfort.
This is why, in politics and in real life, to tell the truth. If you tell the truth, it’s harder to get tripped up because the truth is what you know and you don’t need to come up with a story.
With eight weeks to go, this business will be forgotten soon enough. Hopefully, Clinton will still win the election and, even more hopefully her team will in future rely less on spin and more on honesty and openness.