Hillary Clinton affirmed a serious illness this week. It wasn’t bacterial pneumonia.
Bill Safire diagnosed the disease twenty years ago when he evaluated Hillary Clinton as a “congenital liar.”
After dismissing reports of her ill health as conspiracy theories for much of the summer, the Clinton campaign described the candidate as “overheated” after leaving a 9/11 memorial event on Sunday. MSNBC spun the abrupt departure as an act of politeness. Bizarrely calling high 70s/low 80s “horrific, very hot, extremely humid,” anchor Alex Witt maintained that Clinton “did not want to bring attention to herself… given the solemnity of the event.”
But video showed a slumping 68-year-old, struggling to stand, strongarmed into a van by people who earned the title “handlers.” Trevor Berbick walked on steadier legs after Mike Tyson clocked him.
Candidates recover from falls, literal and metaphorical. Reputations don’t recover from patterns of deceit.
She Brian Williamsed about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire. She Tommy Flanaganned saying she never fired the White House travel office to staff it with Arkansas cronies. She Baron Munchausenned about her parents naming her after Sir Edmund Hillary (he summited Everest years after her birth). She Joe Isuzued about the FBI exonerating her in regard to the accusation that she emailed classified information on a private server. One could go on with myriad Joe Bidens and Bernie Madoffs.
Such acts of deception help explain the Republican’s 15-point advantage in the “honest and trustworthy” category in a recent CNN poll. Donald Trump suffering from the opposite malady, loose-tongue syndrome — giving out a rival’s cell-phone number here, charging full-speed ahead against a family that lost a son to war there — explains the disparity as well. The very attribute that attracts some voters to Donald Trump repels other voters. This week, as an opportunity to kick his downed opponent arose, Trump rose to the occasion by biting his tongue. One can learn self-control at 70. Honesty at 68 comes as a hard habit to make.
Machiavelli noted, “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.” The Machiavellian pol perpetually discovers the truth of the Clintonian philosopher’s take on lies. Partisans believe. But any candidate needs more than stalwarts to gain election. Clinton, who enjoyed double-digit leads in several polls last month, now sees herself in a dogfight. The truth catching up to her allowed Donald Trump to catch up to her.
Nobody not currently opposed to Hillary Clinton awards a vote to Donald Trump because the Democrat coughs too much. They withhold their vote because she lies too much. And this comes despite the fact that the electorate grasps that politicians constitute an especially mendacious bunch. They expect office seekers to kiss babies and lie and not much else. In hugging a child after lying about her illness, Hillary Clinton alienated voters she looked to satiate. Even the photo-ops say something about her character.
Health remains a private matter for most. But for one seeking the presidency, privacy often becomes secrecy. Hillary Clinton didn’t need to cover this up. Everyone has been sick. Why couldn’t she just come clean at some point and say, “I’m under the weather”?
As Bill Safire could have told us if he didn’t get sick, truth just doesn’t come naturally to her.
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