Op-ed: Presidential candidate ills

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, September 13, 2016 4:57pm
  • Opinion

What a terrible weekend Hillary Clinton had! First she stepped into needless controversy, calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters “deplorables.” The next day, she gave a mealy-mouthed statement of “regret” — not for using “deplorable,” but for the “half” part. How dopey did that look? But it was the video of her stumbling or nearly fainting when she got overheated at the 9/11 ceremony in New York that looked nothing short of alarming.

Let’s face it. The “overheated” explanation of her campaign and assurances that she was just fine simply didn’t ring true. And they don’t ring true for a candidate who has tried to wave off innuendo from Rudy Giuliani and the other Trump-supporter crazies that she is suffering serious health issues and concealing them. Her credibility issues haven’t helped her, and her organization did her no favors by hiding her from her traveling reporters.

Then her representatives waited hours before releasing what I like to call an “Oh, By The Way” statement, as in “Oh, by the way, Hillary has been treated for pneumonia for the past couple of days.” PNEUMONIA!? That is not incidental. We Americans have a right to know when a candidate for the office that can determine the life or death of the planet is feeling even the slightest bit puny.

The weekend before, she had been seized with a coughing fit during a Labor Day appearance in Ohio. Her allergy explanation seemed plausible, particularly when she quipped that she really was allergic to Donald Trump. But this latest episode — when video shows her wobbling, at best, and lifted into her van by Secret Service — cannot be laughed off.

To put it bluntly, her campaign is also wobbling. She received a lot of flak for her “deplorables” remark about Trump supporters: “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.” But after Trump and his partisans squealed in outrage, she had to weigh in with a kind of apology, saying she felt “regret” that she had specified “half” of the Trumpsters, even though she went to great pains to exclude those who are “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them …”

While that may be true, Trump’s supporters have embraced a candidate who certainly has earned all those labels. So they are deplorable by association. Donny himself outlandishly labeled what Clinton said as “SO INSULTING” (his caps). What a cruel joke, that. Donald Trump has made Don Rickles look like a sycophantic flatterer. His entire campaign has been like a roast of anyone who opposes him, be they the other candidates, Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, women — you name them; Trump has flung crude hatred at them.

Truth be known, the man is dumber than a stump. That’s why he lies so much. In this case, though, we need to get an honest, thorough report about his health as well as hers. Way more than that gushing letter he ordered up from a physician who obviously didn’t know what he was writing about. There’s ample reason to worry about The Donald, who eats poorly, as demonstrated by his flabby physical appearance.

He’s being smart this time, though. Donald Trump is restraining himself when it comes to Hillary’s health problems. All he said was: “So, something’s going on, but I hope she gets well and gets back on the trail. And we’ll be seeing her at the debate.” That was tactical. While hinting at “something” hidden, he was pretend-gracious, standing out of the way as she presumably recovers from both the pneumonia and, all-importantly, from her aides’ gross mishandling of it. She stumbled, and they did. Big time. It is symptomatic of her long desire to enforce her self-described “zone of privacy” around her as she runs for the most public office there is. That’s ridiculous. If she’s not careful, come Election Day, she’ll have all the “zone” she wants, as a private citizen.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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