Can Hillary Clinton Make it to November 8th?

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Yiming Zhao

Oliver Nyirubugara

Feature Writing

Oct. 21, 2016

Can Hillary Clinton Make it to November 8th?

Hillary Clinton’s health condition and its influence

I woke up from my buzzing phone on the morning of September 11th. As a journalism student, I know something major must have happened to cause all my news apps pushing notifications at the same time, after all, it’s September 11th. However, the news still managed to surprise me. My tiny phone screen was covered with headlines like “Hillary Clinton Faints at 9/11 Mempicture1orial”, “Video shows Clinton stumble leaving 9/11 event” etc. For the next two days, there were all kinds of stories on all kinds of news website regarding Clinton’s health issue. The pneumonia diagnoses, Bill Clinton talking about Hillary having dehydration spells, her cancelling trip to California followed by Donald Trump attacking her on the issue all made tops stories of the day.

It’s not surprise that people or more specifically voters care about the candidate’s health issue. After all, they want them to be able to efficiently fulfill their promises if elected not spending the whole day having doctor’s appointment. Bernie Sanders, who would be 75 on inauguration day and would also be the oldest president ever elected, was also questioned about his health. He then released a doctor’s note proving he was in perfect health condition. However, it’s very surprising that how much the voters care about the candidates’ health condition and how big an influence can it have on the candidates. Back in the days when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, though a very well respected president, he still went out of his ways to hide his illness and disability. During his 12 years in the White House, he was hardly ever photographed in a wheelchair. He also learned to stand with leg braces and to walk a short distance with the help of a cane. But luckily for FDR, he lived in the time when a president could rely on the press corps to help him hide from the larger public. An NBC Nightly News report on the discovery stated that there was “a gentlemen’s agreement” between FDR and the press corps to hide the extent of his disability, and the Associated Press wrote that it was “virtually a state secret.” Unfortunately, with the advancing of technology and rising competition between media companies, these kinds of things can never happen again. It is impossible for Hillary Clinton to hide her illness like FDR. It’s hard for the public to ignore when all the social media and news agencies are covering the story and saying how serious it could be at the same time.  This is influencing her campaign directly. If we search on CNN for the poll statistics before and after Clinton’s fainting incident, we can see without opening the whole article that Clinton’s support rate has been dropping. On September 11th, Clinton was leading Trump by 5 points. But within two days, they were neck-and-neck already. Jeffery Lord, Donald Trump supporter, said on CNN on September 11th “Things are happening at such a rapid clip out there. The poll takes a while to catch up. I mean just within the last 24 hours; wscreen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-46-32-pme’ve had this whole basket of deplorable coming from Hillary Clinton I think is going to affect polls eventually. Not to mention what we’ve been talking about and listening to this afternoon her health situation.”

The fainting incident was just a start. The video of her coughing non- stop at a Labor Day rally in Cleveland, her concussion in 2012 and even theories about her having epilepsy was all over the media on every possible platform.

Donald Trump of course had taken this incident to his advantage by publicly mocking Hillary Clinton saying with his arm swinging in the air imitating her stumble “She has been a disaster. But here’s a woman, she’s supposed to fight all of these things and she can’t make it 15 feet to her car. Give me a break.”

However, this mocking is not, in my opinion, the worst part for Clinton. The pneumonia diagnoses actually came in Friday, September 9th, but the campaign team only released this result on Sunday. Howard Kurtz pointed out in his article on Fox News that “It reinforced the image of excessive secrecy and calculated non-disclosure that has dogged Clinton throughout this campaign.” Along with this late announcement, a conspiracy theory of Hillary Clinton having a body double took over Twitter on Monday morning (Sept. 12th). Thus further her impression of dishonesty, making more people question: Can she be president if she can’t be honest with the public? Comparing to her health condition, this is going to have more influence on her campaign.

In a letter released by the Clinton campaign, the physician, Dr. Lisa R. Bardack, said she had evaluated Mrs. Clinton several times since Sunday, including on Wednesday. “She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest,” Dr. Bardack said. “She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.” Clinton has also been explaining to the public why she did not release the diagnose on time. However, the damage is done. The media has no doubt help amplify these effects. Within the society that everyone has a phone with digital camera and social media apps, politicians have been living under a microscope. Every detail of their life can be recorded then reported.  Clinton’s team clearly has not realized this and has given the opposing party too many things to attack on.

With her physical condition recovering, there’s no doubt Hillary Clinton will make her appearance on the election day. But it’s hard to say how far this impression of dishonesty will go.

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