According to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, only 36% of Americans are “very” or “extremely” confident that Hillary Clinton is healthy enough to be president of the United States. Despite releasing new information about her medical history, the Democratic nominee has been unable to convince voters that all of the rumors and theories about her physical decline are untrue. Weeks of incessant coughing and a disturbing September 11 fainting spell might be explained by a bout of bacterial pneumonia, but many Americans suspect there is something more serious to worry about.
The AP poll found that, on the other hand, 51% of Americans believe that Donald Trump is healthy enough to do the job.
As with many situations this year, there is a gender divide in the answers. 45% of men say they have little confidence in Hillary’s physical fitness, while only 34% of women express the same sentiment. This divide vanishes when it comes to Trump’s health, however; men and women expressed approximately the same degree of confidence in his physical ability to carry out the duties of the presidency.
There’s no question that Hillary’s post-convention illness is playing a big part in the public’s suspicion – the poll was taken from September 15-19, when the video of Hillary’s collapse was still extremely fresh in the minds of the respondents. And it was due to her frequent coughing and throat-clearing that rumors about her health gained national traction in the first place.
At the same time, concerns about Hillary’s health do not begin and end with pneumonia. They begin with a fall she experienced in 2012 that left her with a serious concussion and a blood clot. According to notes from the FBI, Hillary blamed her failure to turn over her private records on this period of time, when she was out of it and struggling to recover. To this day, she takes a blood thinner to prevent the clot from making a return appearance.
Some doctors have expressed skepticism over whether or not her physician – Dr. Lisa Bardack – is qualified to provide Hillary with the care her ailments require. Videos taken well before the pneumonia show Hillary relying on aides for physical support, experiencing episodes of foggy attention, and exhibiting unusual eye movements.
The subject came up – obliquely – in the first debate between Trump and Clinton. Moderator Lester Holt questioned Trump about his remark that Hillary did not have a “presidential look,” insinuating that it was a sexist attack. Trump denied that insinuation, instead telling the audience that he did not think she had the “stamina” to be president.
“Stamina is a code word for maybe not physically up to the job,” Arthur Caplan, a New York University bioethicist, told the AP. “There’s something of a bias about men versus women that subtly Trump has played to, that men are more fit, tough enough to do the job.”
Well, stamina isn’t a “code word” for not being up to the job; that’s basically what it means, flat out. And whether or not it’s “fair” to question Hillary’s health, it’s ridiculous to suggest that it’s in any way related to her gender.
Alas, if she becomes president, get ready to be told for four years that every criticism of her relates to her gender.
Well, four years…or however long her health holds out.