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Waiting to Exhale: Hillary, in Sickness and in Health

What’s wrong with Hillary? Since her collapse on 9/11, that question has become inescapable.

I am not going to try to prove that Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease, or some other serious, degenerative neurological or neuro-vascular condition. I suspect she does, especially since her collapse on 9/11, and the acknowledgement that she was passing off as an allergy what she now claims is pneumonia. Suddenly, the various videos of her strange tics, and the diagnoses thereof, have been less easy to dismiss. One can’t help but wonder what better explains her lackluster campaign?

But the speculation is futile at this point. Either she has some serious condition or she doesn’t, and if she does, it will likely manifest itself in undeniable ways. If her head-shaking, coughing, and collapsing episodes are effects of discrete, trivial things like allergies and overheating, these episodes will stop, and she’ll continue merrily along with her campaign (and likely presidency). She’ll have a lot of public appearances, perform well in the debates, hold regular press conferences, etc., without incident. Of course, the obvious and best thing for her to do, if she’s really healthy, would be to show full medical files with raw test results.

If she does have a serious and degenerating neurological condition, she will try to avoid press conferences, lengthy public appearances with lots of people, and any stressful event where she cannot be physically managed by handlers. But avoiding all that in a presidential campaign is virtually impossible, starting with the debates. So if she is seriously ill, it’s inevitable that obvious symptoms will re-appear, in public and with more frequency.

We shall see.

The main problem for her campaign right now is that nobody believes anything she says. Does anybody think she’s not hiding something? The perception that she’s already been dishonest about her health has already magnified the persistent impression that she’s untrustworthy in general, and is undermining her attempt to persuade reluctant Democratic constituencies that they must come out and vote for her. It’s harder to persuade Bernie-or-Busters or BLM activists that it’s important to vote for you when you can’t stand up. At this point, the debates are going to be watched like NASCAR races, and if she has a three-minute coughing fit, nobody is going to believe it’s an allergy. She will have hit the wall.

I’m sure there are some people who do, but I have no personal wish or political investment in the idea that Hillary has a serious health problem, and feel no need to prove that she does. Of course, the health of a president is a concern for every American (and see Eric Draitser’s analysis of what it might mean for us after the election), but, in the context of the election, her possible health problem makes no difference to me, or leftists like me, who already reject voting for Hillary for a myriad of reasons. For us, it’s politically irrelevant.

On the other hand, neither do I have any personal or psychological investment in the idea that she does not have a serious health problem, as I know some people do. The state of Hillary’s health will have the greatest personal and political impact on the people who support her, and who have been insisting that all progressives must vote for her—because she’s the only hope for defeating Trump, and that’s the most important thing. Those are the people who actively resist the idea that Hillary’s seriously ill, and attack those who even raise the possibility, because it would require her supporters to recognize and acknowledge things about her that they would rather not.

Consider what it means if it emerges, and—as it would—destroys her campaign, that Hillary does have a serious, degenerative neurological condition which she knew about since at least 2012.

It would mean that she entered the Democratic primary withholding crucial facts about her health—facts that she knew would disqualify her from becoming president for many people, and would certainly have affected Democratic voters’ choice between her and Bernie Sanders. It would mean, in fact, that she had deprived the party of an honest chance to choose Bernie, who, given this, would unquestionably have been a better candidate against Trump. It would mean that she went into the general election knowingly risking the likely exposure of those facts, the destruction of the Democratic Party’s campaign, and the resultant election of President Donald Trump. That would all be on her, and on the fact that she considered her ambition—her right—to be President worth the risk to all that she destroyed.

As I say, none of this would surprise me, or change my mind about Hillary in the slightest. But I do wonder how the people who have been preaching the moral imperative to vote for Hillary, because they think defeating Donald Trump is the most important thing in the world, would react to this. Would they recognize that she bears the primary responsibility for enabling a Trump presidency–that, indeed, her primary concern was never preventing a Trump presidency, but achieving her ambitions?

Would they recognize—what at that point would be hard to deny—that her arrogance, narcissism, and mendacity are unsurpassed, even by the Donald? Would they understand the need to reject the rotten personality-, money-, and media-driven two-party system that breeds such psychopathic politics? Or would they continue to blame it all on the Bernie Bros and Conspiracy Theorists?

I’ll leave the answers to those questions to those who have the most riding on them.

Hillary is already becoming as big a problem for the Democrats as Trump is for the Republicans. She spent the month of August in private fund-raising parties, only to emerge on Labor Day with a coughing fit, lie about it, and collapse a few days later. She’s generating more mistrust and no enthusiasm. She is slipping in the polls. To Donald Trump! Even her media supporters decry the anxiety and growing “I can’t go there” desperation in her campaign. And it’s reported that Democratic “operatives” consider they are in “unchartered political territory,” and have held an “emergency meeting” to consider a possible replacement. The Democrats are not breathing easy right now.

The state of her health has something to do with that, and will certainly be a big factor in whether her desultory campaign can revive in time. If she does have a serious condition, and it emerges before the election, it would mean that every day she dragged out the charade did further damage to the party, and to the stop-Trump campaign she and her supporters claim is their ultimate concern. It would have been much easier for the Democrats to have elected another nominee in August, and would be somewhat easier to pick another nominee now, than it will be to find a new candidate in October, if Hillary seizes up in one of the debates.

Not that her supporters should be too worried. She still retains considerable advantages—demographic and financial—over Trump, including the support of the Republican, National Security, and media establishments. Nothing is going to get Hillary out of the race except some degenerative disease, if she has one. So if she doesn’t, she’ll take a deep breath, spring back, and win the election easily. I do think that’s still the most likely outcome.

Whatever happens, Hillary Clinton can take comfort in the fact that the Democratic Party is with her, ‘til death do them part.

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Jim Kavanagh edits The Polemicist.

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