It’s Time For Clinton To Release Her Full Medical Records

Stewart Lawrence Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.
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When Hillary Clinton began a campaign speech on Labor Day last week with a two-minute coughing fit, the incident seemed to confirm what many critics have been saying for months about the former First Lady:  She’s not well.  

But instead of an honest on-air discussion about the Democratic candidate’s health status, nervous MSNBC reporters began circling the wagons, suggesting that Clinton’s heavy campaigning and the stress of the race were beginning to “take their toll.

Never mind that Clinton had just come off a week’s vacation punctuated by low-impact fundraisers in the Hamptons with fawning admirers like Cher and Bon Jovi.  She was hardly in stress mode.  In fact, until that speech in Cleveland, she hadn’t made a real campaign appearance in weeks.

And it wasn’t her first coughing fit.   Even longer ones have interrupted public appearances from New York to Reno.   Some have lasted close to four minutes.  Generally, her defenders shrug these off as a bag case of pollen – or just a cold.

Clinton’s media lap dogs are clearly intent on protecting their political darling.  Editorialists in all the major newspapers have railed against Hillary’s health critics, calling them conspiracy theorists.” (One columnist even compared them to birthers”).  Apparently, these labels apply to anyone – conservative or not — who has the temerity to suggest that Clinton should be held to the same standard John McCain was in 2008, when Democrats demanded that the 70-year old skin cancer sufferer release his full medical records.  McCain did, of course, and passed with flying colors.

Just how high are the stakes?   Consider this:  A columnist at the uber-liberal Huffington Post who dared to raise issues about Hillary’s health was terminated and two of his previously published columns unrelated to the issue were pulled down as an added punishment for speaking out. 

Even worse was the case of Dr. Drew, the popular radio host, who said on-air that he saw mounting evidence of Clinton’s health problems.  After reviewing a portion of her medical records, he also expressed astonishment at the quality of medical care she was receiving, calling it “1950s era.”

When Drew’s comments hit the Internet, just when the Clintons thought they had nipped the entire issue in the bud, corporate reaction was swift. Drew’s open-ended contract, which had already lasted five years, was summarily fired with no official explanation.

The extremes to which opinion writers will go to try to protect Clinton are truly mind-boggling.  In a recent opinion, Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza gamely tried to distinguish the McCain medical controversy from Clinton’s, suggesting that McCain’s history of skin cancer was real and documented, while future threats to Clinton were merely presumed.”

Cillizza’s argument is patently absurd.  Clinton’s own doctors described her brain clot in 2012 as “life-threatening” and openly suggested the likelihood of future episodes, as well as complications from the clot.  This is hardly idle speculation.   Assuming that McCain was susceptive to major cancer probably was.

Blatant partisanship aside, the public clearly has a right to know whether Clinton and Trump, for that matter — might be concealing conditions that could limit their efficacy.   Right now, all we have to go on is a short letter from Clinton’s doctor attesting to her good health.  Trump has a letter, too.  Private physicians are paid by their clients to represent them in a manner that their clients see fit.  That means neither of these letters can be considered dispositive. 

Trump has agreed to release his medical records and says he expects Clinton to do the same.  Maybe that will place added pressure on Clinton to relent, but don’t count on it. 

Trump, of course, has yet to release his tax records, and probably won’t.  Clinton has released her tax records and Trump’s failure to do so would seem to undermine his demands for greater transparency from Clinton. 

But we the public don’t have to play this tit-for-tat game.  Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s while in office and many people at the time were aware of his memory impairment.  Might his condition have affected his judgment during Iran-contra scandal, when he literally seemed not to remember whether he had approved the illicit arms transfer?

Clinton recently told FBI chief James Comey that she couldn’t remember some of her earlier decisions regarding her email server, and Comey, it appears, believed her.  Clinton’s own top aide, Huma Abedin, the “body woman” who never leaves her side, has confided to third-parties that her boss is “often confused.”

Who needs to try to figure out from You Tube videos – or the latest incident during the 9/11 celebration — whether Hillary has Parkinson’s or some other serious disease?   The stakes in this election – and the security threats facing the country are simply too high.  

Clinton and Trump need to release their full medical records and independent experts should be allowed to examine them.