Some Historical Context on Presidential Candidates and Health

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Over at the New York Times Rick Shenkman, publisher of the History News Network and author of Political Animals, reminds us that several Presidents in American history have hidden their bad health from the general public.  The list includes Grover Cleveland, George H.W. Bush, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

Here is a taste of his piece:

In the 21st century it’s nearly impossible for a president to conceal an illness, serious or not. As Hillary Clinton learned this past week, cell phones make transparency requisite even in situations where an ailment is unlikely to impact a leader’s ability to function. Blissful ignorance is no longer an option.

If you see a leader stumble and nearly fall as they climb into an automobile and later find out they had been secretly diagnosed with pneumonia you cannot help but feel betrayed. The media’s job is to keep after our leaders to be honest. The voter’s job is to make cool-headed judgments, distinguishing between serious and run-of-the-mill ailments.

But above all presidents cannot be caught hiding something. To paraphrase a line from Watergate, it’s not the illness that matters, it’s the cover-up. Deception undermines the public’s confidence and this at a time when the level of trust in our leaders is near all-time lows.

Read the entire piece here.