December 3rd, 2021


The pervasive paranoia of Hillary Clinton strikes again

Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza The Washington Post

Published Sept. 13, 2016

The Closing of the American Mouth

"Trust us."

That's the message from Hillary Clinton's campaign in the wake of a medical incident on Sunday in which the former Secretary of State appeared wobbly, at best, as she left a Sept. 11 memorial service early.

Clinton got overheated and dehydrated at the event because she is battling pneumonia, according to her doctor. "Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies," said Clinton's doctor Lisa R. Bardack in a statement. "On Friday, during a follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning's event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely."

So Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. Her campaign said nothing. She almost had to be lifted into her vehicle - if you have not watched the footage, go back and do it now - because she was struggling to walk the few steps to the car on Sunday morning. For 90 minutes, no word of her well-being was released as she recuperated from her "overheating" at her daughter Chelsea's apartment. (Clinton did not allow any reporters with her during this time.) Then, hours later a statement from her doctor that said she has been sick with pneumonia for at least 48 hours.

That's a lot to swallow. That's, of course, not to say it's not accurate. But, the Clintons' history with transparency (not good) when coupled with their response to this incident (also, not good) plays into one of the ongoing narratives of this presidential race: That you simply cannot trust Hillary Clinton to tell you the whole truth.

David Axelrod, a longtime Democratic media consultant and close adviser to President Barack 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?"

There is a line that runs through all of Clinton's issues - her 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.

Why didn't Clinton do that? She's never explained fully. But it's clear that Clinton believed the issue to be a nothing-burger and was convinced that any opening she gave to the media - "I'm sorry and this is why it happened" - wouldn't solve the problem but only lead to more questions. It's hard to imagine - and, yes, hindsight is 20-20 - that the story could have played out much worse for Clinton than it has.

Study what happened on Sunday and you see a pattern. Clinton isn't 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' time.) 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 rather than transparency - amid a bevy of poll numbers that show somewhere between 55 percent and 65 percent of the American public don't believe the words "honest" or "trustworthy" apply to her.

And always an emphasis on the need to simply take Clinton's word for it. Trust her that all of the emails that were deleted permanently from her server were purely personal. Trust her that any appearance of pay-to-play with donors to the Clinton Foundation is purely coincidental. Trust her that everything is A-OK with her health after the incident on Sunday.

"I know there's a lot of smoke and there's no fire," Clinton told CNN a few weeks back while answering questions about the foundation's donor practices. That appears to be the Clinton line for every controversy that arises in this campaign: We are taking care of it. Everything is fine. Trust us.

But for a candidate that more than half the country thinks is something short of honest and trustworthy, that answer isn't likely to be good enough -- on Clinton's health or any of the other issues that have come up in this campaign for her.

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