"Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that."I notice how overstated the reaction is — "no words for this level of lying"? What part is the lie? Was Rove wrong about the number of days in the hospital? (I think he was.) Clearly, she came out wearing some special glasses. Was Rove wrong in his characterization of the glasses? (Maybe not.) Certainly, it's fair to state that the public (and the prospective donors) need accurate facts about a presidential candidate's health. That is always demanded, and we've been misled by candidates in the past. (I'm thinking of Paul Tsongas.)
The overreaction makes me suspicious that there really is a problem. I don't like this how-dare-you-even-ask attitude. It makes me skeptical. But I do understand the alternative explanation: Stir up the base with stimulating outrage and a reminder that one ought to hate Karl Rove.
Here's a 1992 column by William Safire, puzzling over the case of Paul Tsongas:
The last time a dying man ran for president of the U.S. was in 1944.Of course, the opponents of a candidate are also tempted to lie. They may spread doubts about a candidate's vigor. I remember when Bob Dole ran for President in 1996 and there were endless jokes about how he was so old it was practically a miracle he still walked the face of the earth. It's 18 years later, and the man is still alive.
Franklin Roosevelt was declared to be "in splendid shape" by his doctor, Adm. Ross McIntire. When the wartime president`s haggard appearance and quaking hands started rumors of his high blood pressure and weak heart, his press secretary prevailed on the FBI to investigate a doctor suspected of leaking the truth.
The story was squelched. I remember watching FDR campaign down Broadway through the rain, as if to demonstrate robust health; he died three months into his fourth term.
A generation later, Lyndon Johnson, fighting for the Democratic nomination, had his friend John Connally put out word that John F. Kennedy suffered from Addison`s disease, a glandular affliction requiring cortisone treatment.
Again a respected physician deliberately misled the public. Dr. Janet Travell described the serious ailment as a wartime "depletion of adrenal function from which he is now rehabilitated,"` and she helped Robert Kennedy cover up his brother`s treatment all during the 1960 campaign.
Perhaps a case can be made during wartime for a doctor surrounding a presidential patient with a "bodyguard of lies" to keep a commander-in-chief`s condition from the enemy.
But that does not excuse a dying president from hiding his illness to benefit his candidacy.
UPDATE: Karl Rove says: "Of course she doesn't have brain damage."
But Rove said that it is apparent that Clinton suffered "a serious health episode." He added that if she runs for president in 2016, "she is going to have to be forthcoming" about the details of where, how and when it happened.