Be skeptical of campaign medical reports

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lost in the back-and-forth over which presidential candidate has been more transparent about their health is this — the notion that a candidate should release detailed medical records is a relatively modern one, with past presidents concealing serious medial issues.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton released a two-page letter from her doctor, and Donald Trump has released a four-paragraph letter.

Does the public deserve more? It’s easy to argue yes. The health of the next president is important.

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“Nearly half the presidents in the nation’s history have had significant illnesses or injuries while in office,” the LA Times reported. Many of those presidents hid their health problems from the public, the newspaper wrote.

“Woodrow Wilson had a serious stroke in 1919 that in effect ended his ability to run the country, yet his condition was kept secret. His wife, Edith, quietly took over his work until his term ended in 1921.”

Certainly, if a candidate suffers from an ailment that could prevent him or her from adequately performing the duties of the president, the public should know. But should the public know about every cough or sniffle? Do presidential candidates deserve some level of privacy when it comes to medical issues?

Bill Clinton resisted releasing his detailed medical records during his re-election campaign, citing privacy concerns, and Bob Dole made it a campaign issue. Since then, voters have expected more and more of candidates when it comes to health information.

Voters expect candidates to be almost superhuman in regard to health, but in reality, no candidate who has secured his or her party’s nomination is going to disclose a medical issue that would jeopardize their chance at winning the election. There’s simply too much at stake.

So regardless of what medical reports are finally released about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, you have to take them with a grain of salt, much like anything they say or do. If history is any indication, there won’t be anything in those reports that causes concerns for voters. Not because they are 100 percent healthy, but because they hope to win in November.