Like waiting for the rich uncle to die.
Weirdest thing. I had just come back from my first-ever treadmill stress test. Never had done such a thing before. They tape all these little squares on your chest, have you walk on the treadmill at 1.7 miles an hour at a certain incline, take your pulse and blood pressure, then increase the thing to 2.5 miles an hour and up the incline, then increase the pace to over 3 miles an hour, upping the incline, continually monitoring the blood pressure, the pulse, all kinds of other stuff on their screen. And then comes the stress test — they tear each of those ten stickies off your chest. Unless you are into masochism or are a woman (it being assumed that, as a conservative, you agree with the premise that men and women are not exactly identical), that is murder.
I had just returned from the stress test, thankful to G-d for the results reported to me, and there was Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, personal physician to the President of the United States, on television reporting to the media on the health of President Trump. Although I was under serious time pressure, having already lopped off a chunk of my day for the cardiologist visit, I had seen something like this in the past and knew that it runs maybe five or ten minutes, so I watched the doctor report that the President is in very good health with some really excellent data to support the report. Five, ten minutes. Done.
And then the circus began, as it can do so only in the hellhole that is known as the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (The word “hellhole” is an appropriate term in the English language because United States Senator Lindsey Olin Graham of South Carolina uses it to describe countries in South America, Central America, and other Third World countries where people do not look like the denizens of Canada or Norway.) It was, for lack of a better phrase, a Teachable Moment in American History, the day that the media circus unraveled in full public view of the American public as an assemblage of maniacs akin to a kin waiting for a rich uncle to die. It was like all the children and nephews, nieces, siblings, and grandparents of a hated billionaire gathered to hear news from the doctor that Father/Uncle/Grandpa is going to die any minute, and all his money will be distributed to them. The eagerness and excitement in the room was palpable as the circus unraveled around one predominant theme:
So how long till The Old Man croaks?
For those of you who did not have the opportunity to watch the event, under the mistaken impression that Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey had closed shop, here is approximately what you missed:
Navy Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson (hereafter “Doctor”): I am here, y’know, to report to you on, y’know, the health of the President of the United States. I just did, y’know, three million different tests on him, calibrated the results, y’know, in five different measuring systems, triple-checked the results on, y’know, four different computer systems, allowing for differences in air pressure in Denver, smog in Los Angeles, and arid conditions in the Sahara, and I am happy to report to the American people that the President is very healthy.
Reporter #1: Will he die soon?
Doctor: No, he is very healthy. He is fine.
Reporter #2: Will he die soon?
Doctor: As I just reported, he is doing very well. All his indicators are excellent.
Reporter #3: But he eats four Big Macs every hour, and tacos on Cinco de Mayo. Will he die soon?
Doctor: We did test the President’s cholesterol. His blood panels, y’know, came back quite reasonably. For a man his age, his cholesterol was within a very easily manageable range, in the low 220s, something we easily can control, y’know, with a statin. He uses Crestor at its lowest dose, and we easily can up that dose a bit, still a mild dosage, and that should get his cholesterol, y’know, under 200. He is doing really well on the lipids for a man his age.
Reporter #4: So he will die soon?
Doctor: No, he is doing fine. And his HDL-to-LDL ratio, y’know, is actually pretty good. He has an HDL in the 60s, and we just like it to be over 40. So that is, y’know, really good. We just want to get the LDL “bad cholesterol” down a bit. The Crestor will do that simply enough, and he won’t even need a serious dose.
Reporter #5: Just a moment please, Doctor. I am trying to read my notes. (Reporter squints.) Oh, yeah: What about his vision? Is he blind yet?
Doctor: Actually, he has great vision. Without any eyeglass correction, he can see, y’know, 20-30 in his weaker eye. He is past 70, and he does not need glasses to drive. That really is something, y’know. He sees great.
Reporter #6: So, just to be clear, let me get this straight: You are saying that the President is legally blind?
Doctor: No. Actually I am saying that he sees quite well, remarkably well for a man his age. I have never seen someone with such eyesight. In fact, during the physical, he asked me to pause a moment so that he could look out the window and into Pyongyang to make sure that North Korea is not moving any missiles. He smiled and said it all looked good. Then he looked into Iran from another window just to watch whether Tehran was abiding by its obligations not to operate nuclear centrifuges. He seemed pretty disappointed, as he explained to me that it seems the Mullahs have lined the centrifuges with lead to prevent him from seeing into them when he looks that way from the Oval Office.
Reporter #7: What about his orange face? Will he die soon?
Doctor: No. The President does have an occasional mild eruption of rosacea, a common dermatological condition that can be caused, y’know, by too many years of sun exposure. On the rare occasion of such an outbreak, he takes a pill that controls it.
Reporter #8: But he eats so poorly. We read that in the Lewandowski book. Isn’t he going to die soon?
Doctor: I have discussed the President’s diet with him. He has been well served by a lifetime of avoiding alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs. But the President understands that his diet can improve. So, for starters, we are going to limit him to no more than two dozen Big Macs each day, with no more than four an hour, and we are recommending that he limit his Diet Coke intake to no more than one tank daily. He will be fine.
Reporter #9: So he is going to die soon?
Doctor: No, actually he has great genes. I don’t know how else to put it. Great genes. His numbers reflect that he not only will live out the full term of his presidency but, if reelected, he easily will live out those subsequent four years, too.
Reporter #10: But how can you be sure? How can you stand there with such certainty and say that he won’t be dead in the next seven years or maybe the next three years? How can you know? Maybe there’s still chance he will die soon?
Doctor: Well, first of all, y’know, I am a doctor. I did all these batteries of tests. We have his details, his data. His blood panels, his PSA count at under 2.0, his A1C at 5.0 — not even close to pre-diabetes. His heart functions are solid. He has clear carotid arteries.
Reporter #11: Did you just say that his arteries are corroded? Will he die soon?
Doctor: Actually, I told him that, if he just modifies his diet a bit, gets some exercise, he will live to be 200.
(A loud groaning sound fills the room.)
Reporter #12: Two hundred what?
(More groaning, filling the room.)
Reporter #13: Last subject. Is he mentally decrepit, impeachable under the 25th Amendment?
Doctor: Interesting that you, y’know, asked. We never ever test for that, but this President specifically asked me, y’know, to run those tests, too.
Reporter #14: So we — uh, I mean… Congress — can impeach him?
Doctor: Well, actually his cognition is fantastic. I administered a particularly challenging cognition test called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which we commonly know as the “MOCA.”
Reporter #15: Did you just say that he was drinking mocha while you were trying to test his brain? Does he have Alzheimer’s? Will he die soon?
Doctor: No, it’s a famous test, and a very serious test of, y’know, cognitive function. We look ideally for a score of 26 out of 30 for excellent cognition. The President scored 30 out of 30.
Reporter #16: Did you just say that, on a bona fide exam of his mental capacity, the President only got a grade of 30? Isn’t 65 the commonly accepted passing grade on tests? Does that mean he has Alzheimer’s? Will he die soon?
Doctor: No. I said that the President scored 30 out of 30. It is, y’know, a serious cognitive test. You could look it up online: “Montreal Cognitive Assessment.” It is the only thing that bonds the French-speaking and English-speaking populations of Canada. It tests short-term memory (also known in Montreal as “la memoire de shorte-terme”), visuospatial abilities (otherwise called “les abilities de visuosptiale”), executive functions (“les functiones des executives”), concentration (“le concentratione”), attention (also called “l’attention!”), and time-and-place orientation (also known as “le temps and le place du/ de la Chelsea Manning”). And he, y’know, really did exceptionally well.
Reporter #17: I don’t understand what you just said. Please clarify: Does he have Alzheimer’s? Will he die soon?
Doctor: No. He is cognitively solid. Attentive, alert, sharp and keen of mind. He has excellent lipids under easy control with a modest dosage of Crestor. A very low PSA count. Very low A1C and excellent glucose levels tested while, y’know, fasting. Excellent coronary function and clear arteries. Strong heart. Needs to lose some weight, which can be accomplished, y’know, by a bit more exercise and some diet improvements. I will work with the White House chef to implement, y’know, some of those guidelines. He scored exceptionally highly on the MOCA. This President will be with us as long as the American people elect him to serve.
Reporter #18: What about golf? He plays golf. Isn’t that bad for him? Will he die soon?
Doctor: No, he will live to be 200. Golf is actually a form of light exercise. It is good for him. It brings him outside in the sun, fosters a certain amount of walking, 75-100 knee bends over 18 holes. Golf is not the ultimate exercise, but it is a light exercise that does him well. Anyway, I never before have been asked so many questions when I have made such a simple positive health report, but the President specifically instructed me not to leave the podium until I had answered every last question, no matter what the question, because he wanted every single aspect of the medical exam to be transparent, and so I have answered an hour of questions. I will take one or two final questions.
Reporter #19: Is there any information you have withheld? Any medicines he takes that you have not told us?
Doctor: No, the President was explicit in his instructions to me: Disclose everything. Tell them everything, and answer every, y’know, last question completely. Do not withhold any information at all.
Reporter #20: Does the President have Alzheimer’s? I don’t remember what you said a few minutes ago. Will the President die soon? And how big are his hands?
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Thank you, Dr. Jackson.