If Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election, she can probably trace it back to 9/11.
Not Sept. 11, 2001, when the world changed for America, but 9/11 this year, when her debilitating problem with honesty and transparency tripped her up worse than she stumbled Sunday because of whatever ailment is afflicting her.
If she wins the White House, I would hope, no, actually, I would beg her to get serious help for her problem and heed some quality advice.
Hillary’s horrible, no good, very bad weekend epitomizes her trouble with veracity. For the past few weeks, she’s been dogged by what seemed be just more of the whack-right conspiracy theories about Hillary being on death’s door. In fact, that’s what she labeled them as: conspiracies. Her critics are so rife with that kind of stuff, that it was easy to agree.
Then the coughing got worse. In public, she couldn’t quit coughing for a few minutes last week. When the whole world starting wondering what the hell was going on, she finally said that she has allergies, but that she was fine, just fine.
Sunday, she abruptly left a Sept. 11 memorial, then clearly began to collapse as she was helped into a van. Rushed away by campaign officials, they said that she had become “overheated.”
Hours later, her campaign said that Clinton was diagnosed Friday as having pneumonia, likely caused by her allergies, and that she had become dehydrated and hot in the New York summer swelter. Not long after that, she walked back to her campaign car in New York City and told reporters that she was fine. “Feeling great.”
On Monday, she told CNN in a phone conversation that she didn’t reveal her pneumonia until after she fell publicly ill, because she didn’t think it was “a big deal.”
I find it implausible that a campaign that understands the science of polling, and wins with it, would make such a grave misstep. Clearly, Clinton and her campaign wanted to avoid any health-concerns grief from Trump and the media and took a gamble. They lost.
Clinton is a candidate who suffers so greatly at the polls because of her reputation for being far less than transparent and arguably dishonest. How she would either take the worst political advice possible or decide herself to handle this illness like she did is a compelling mystery. And it’s one that Clinton probably won’t detail herself, or even allow others to talk about. In the grand plan of one of the most controversial and unnerving presidential elections in the country’s history, it was a historically stupid move.
Given that she’s being hounded by critics who suspect she’s hiding a serious illness, how could she possibly think that a pneumonia diagnosis should be kept under wraps?
Generously, I believe that this woman is so hounded and hunted by her critics that she looks at everything as possible fodder for an unfair attack. And I’d say that’s true. It is unfair that Hillary is agonizingly scrutinized while Trump says anything or simply ignores the media and moves along seemingly unscathed.
But her lack of courage in being able to face those critics no matter what they say or do is disappointing and worrisome. It’s worrisome because Clinton doesn’t understand the intractable reality that in almost every case, the truth will out, just like it may have done here. For someone haunted by perceptions of dishonesty that play out like this one, it’s a serious liability. It breeds distrust.
Now, Clinton must not only go into spin control to try and cover up her lack of honesty on her cough-pneumonia-collapse, she has to explain why she chose to withhold this important information. She no longer has the credibility to assure voters that it’s just as she said it is — today — a bad cough that got away from her. Now, she’s no longer able to credibly fight off what will certainly be rumors from her critics that she suffers from tuberculosis, lung cancer, Ebola or any of a long list of worrisome maladies.
Why can’t Clinton just say it like it is? After nearly passing out, knowing that the real diagnosis is about to become public in minutes or hours, Clinton waves and tells reporters, she feels “great.” I’ve had pneumonia, I never thought I was dying, but I can tell you I felt far from “great.” I felt like hell.
Why do this? Why can’t Clinton find a way to fight the bad-advice or the self-destructive urge to misrepresent her problems and shortcomings?
Clinton now has to assure voters that she really is healthy enough to campaign and assume the presidency, and she has to do that with further diminished credibility. At the same time, she has to explain to voters why she purposely misled them about her health problems.
And she probably won’t. She’ll try to step past this like she has other lingering, funky controversies that could so easily have been buried. It’s mind boggling that such a seasoned, successful and savvy politician could repeatedly stumble over the same, novice mistakes.
The reality is, she’s running against a man, Donald Trump, who is unparalleled in being the country’s most unsavory and unqualified presidential candidate ever. And still Clinton struggles, and this is why.
More than a shame, it could be a national catastrophe if Clinton were to lose this election over how she handled her hay fever.
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