Hillary Is No Nixon - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Hillary Is No Nixon

Richard Nixon banged his knee. And he told the waiting world everything.

It was August of 1960. Campaigning in North Carolina, the Republican nominee for president against the Democrats’ young and not well-known Senator John F. Kennedy accidentally caused himself a health problem. The knee injury became a knee infection, and by August 29th then-Vice President Nixon was being admitted to Walter Reed Army Hospital — for two weeks.

There was no cable TV in 1960, but the three broadcast networks and every newspaper in the country took the news and ran with it. Here’s the headline that was the banner of the August 30, 1960 Chicago Tribune, capital letters in the original:


Must Stay in Bed Two Weeks Because of Infected Knee
Hopes to launch campaign on Sept. 12

The Nixon campaign, confronted with this out-of-the-blue health concern, made no effort to hide a thing. Instead, it went into a transparency overdrive, bordering on what might be called in the 21st century “TMI” — too much information. As seen here in this old newsreel, the cameraman was allowed in to take film of Nixon in bed in his pajamas signing papers while his ever faithful secretary Rose Mary Woods hovered bedside. The next image is of the arrival of President Eisenhower, with Ike posing for film purposes — silent film it should be said.

And Ike wasn’t alone. Over the course of his two-week stay in the hospital Nixon received well-publicized visits from Senate Majority and Senate Minority Leaders Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen, not to mention a drop-by from his inter-party GOP rival, New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

Finally, the knee healed and Nixon, belatedly, was out on the campaign trail at last. But there was a problem. The debate — the first televised presidential debate in American history -loomed on September 26th. The date arrived quickly, and as the eventual legend goes, Kennedy won based on his appearance on TV. Tanned, fit — and properly made up — JFK looked the star. Nixon, on the other hand, looked terrible. He had lost weight during his hospital stay, and his shirt collar seemed a size too large. Combined with a light-colored suit and his incurable hints of a five o’clock shadow (for which he refused the recommended make-up) Nixon looked terrible — and Americans of the day who saw his performance gave the debate to JFK, effectively launching the Kennedy myth.

Why recount this ancient political history?

Because what seemed so blindingly obvious to the 1960 Republican nominee, the sitting vice president of the United States, wasn’t even thought of by a Democratic nominee a full 56 years later. The question is: why? Here’s the Washington Post:

Hillary Clinton’s health scare highlights her campaign’s pervasive paranoia

Catch that? The Washington Post, a paper well out there on the limb as a phobic Trump-hater, is finally saying the “P” word — and the “P” stands not for pneumonia but paranoia. Wrote the Post’s Chris Cillizza:

David Axelrod, a longtime Democratic media consultant and close adviser to President Obama, summed up that sentiment nicely in a tweet sent Monday morning:

Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?

Exactly. And Cillizza continues:

There is a line that runs through all of Clinton’s issues — her private email server, the Clinton Foundation and now her health — in this race. And it is an obsession with secrecy driven by a paranoia of the media.

Think of how differently the email controversy might have turned out if, in that first news conference addressing the existence of a private email server last spring, Clinton would have simply said, “I’m sorry,” and told reporters everything she knew about the setup. It’s nearly certain that we wouldn’t still be talking about it 18 months later.

Study what happened Sunday, and you see a pattern. Clinton is not feeling well. She is taken to Chelsea’s house to recuperate. Reporters are in the dark about her health status for 90 minutes. (Before you roll your eyes, consider that she is one of two people with a chance to be president in 56 days.) We are told she has “overheated” by her staff. Then, hours later, it’s revealed that, well, actually, she has pneumonia, and it was diagnosed several days ago.

Always a lean toward secrecy and obscuring rather than openness and transparency — amid a bevy of poll numbers that show somewhere between 55 percent and 65 percent of the American public do not believe the words “honest” or “trustworthy” apply to her.

And right there is the perpetual Clinton problem. The years and the issues come and they go. But time and time again it all comes down to Clintonian honesty. Last year a Quinnipiac University poll asked voters to volunteer a one-word description for Hillary Clinton. The resulting top three descriptives — unprompted by the pollsters — were “liar,” “dishonest,” and untrustworthy.”

So here we are again. Hillary Clinton’s health is raised as an issue — and we are told all is well. Then some civilians out there capture video of her almost collapsing while waiting for and getting into her Secret Service SUV — and we suddenly find out that all is actually not well at all. And hours — hours after that — we find out that well, gee, actually, she really has pneumonia.

What she really has is a constitutional inability to tell the truth. And that is the real problem for the Clinton campaign. Not to mention, if she is elected, the country.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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