I think well over half of the problems the Clintons face are self-inflicted and caused primarily by their almost paranoid desire for secrecy. After reading the FBI’s report on Clinton’s private server, I believe that it is highly likely that the Clintons did not know even the basics of what was going on with the server that had been installed at their request; however, it is clear that the overarching directive to keep their emails a secret was one that came directly from Bill and Hillary themselves and it is the one directive that was carefully followed. As a result of that debacle, Clinton continues to face questions about her competence to handle classified information, which is a necessary job function for the President.
It is clear and has been for some time that Hillary has been battling a health problem of some sort while she is on the campaign trail this year. I haven’t really written about it because without any sort of evidence as to what that problem might be, there’s no way to tell whether Hillary’s issues fall into the “might affect her job performance” category or the “really none of anyone’s business” category. I have many conservative friends who have made fun of my unwillingness to touch this issue before now, especially in light of the way liberals openly used it against John McCain.
I guess the time I’ve spent working in the health care industry has colored my beliefs about this sort of story in a couple of important ways. The first is the recognition that nearly everyone has health problems of some sort at age 70. The miracles of modern medicine have made it so that being alive past the age of 70 is a commonplace phenomenon for probably the first time in the history of Western Civilization. That having been said, we have primarily achieved this by being able to effectively manage the chronic conditions that almost inevitably beset the human body as it passes the age of 50 or so. If you make it to the age of 70 without developing Type II diabetes, or COPD, or some chronic condition that affects your activities of daily living, you are the exception, not the rule. Heck, even at the age of 38, I’m keenly aware of the extent to which my body is broken down as compared to its 20 year old self.
All that having been said, I would highly expect any person around the age of 70 – including both Clinton and Trump – to have some sort of ongoing chronic medical condition or another. And I would guess that some number of voters will take that seriously into consideration when making their voting decision; although the Trump campaign would do well to avoid harping on this issue too much since the actuarial tables would suggest that Clinton has a much better chance of living through two terms than he does. To me, the question has never been whether Clinton or Trump is healthy, the question is whether they suffer from any sort of health malady that would make them unable to perform the duties of the office.
I’ve not seen yet convincing evidence that either candidate does, even after yesterday. I don’t necessarily buy Team Clinton’s explanation that Hillary collapsed from exhaustion due to the rigors of campaigning with pneumonia, which she was apparently only recently diagnosed with. What happened did not look like a simple fall from exhaustion, it looked more like a syncope of some sort to my untrained eyes. Further, the Clintons’ behavior before and after the incident is inconsistent with, say, pneumonia-induced dehydration, which should have been accompanied by a trip to the hospital for blood draws and a chest x-ray instead of marching Hillary immediately out in front of the public again to loudly tell everyone that everything is okay. That behavior is really just more consistent with a campaign that knows they are managing a chronic condition and these sort of flareups happen and are nothing to be concerned about.
Still, even as someone who is inclined to think that Clinton appears to be more or less physically able to perform the job of the Presidency for four years, all the caveats you see above are indicative of the cloud of doubt cast over everything involving the Clintons in light of their pathological need for secrecy. As Hillary Clinton hacked and coughed her way through months of campaign stops and gave numerous indications that she was suffering from something, her campaign petulantly insisted that absolutely nothing was wrong with her, in spite of what people could see with their eyes.
That sort of stonewalling is exactly what leads to the conspiracy theories that seem to follow Clintons around wherever they go, and what leads people to flatly disbelieve it when they emerge and declare, “Just a bout with pneumonia! Nothing to be concerned about!” It is exactly what leads people to believe that, rather than being some relatively benign age-related malady, it might actually be a condition that could seriously impede her ability to perform the duties of the job effectively.
I’ve said all this to say, if you’re going to loudly and publicly proclaim that there is literally nothing wrong with your 70 year old candidate in spite of evidence to the contrary, you had better hope that nothing like yesterday’s collapse ever happens in public. Because if it does, it moves immediately from “well, that’s interesting” territory into “this might change my vote” territory in the minds of the fickle voters that decide Presidential elections. And if that has truly happened, the Clintons have no one but themselves to blame.