Clinton releases medical records, puts conspiracy theories to rest

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Hillary Clinton has a body double. How else could the Democratic presidential candidate walk around New York City on Sunday, one minute healthy as can be, the next stumbling into a van and leaving a shoe behind?

Peaking on Google Trends at 9 p.m. on Monday night, the term “Hillary Clinton body double” describes the latest conspiracy theory surrounding Clinton since her campaign revealed that she has pneumonia. Many conspiracy theories have surfaced about Clinton since she became a public figure, but before New Jersey resident Zdenek Gazda recorded her struggling into a van with Secret Service agents catching her before she fell, these theories seemed far less plausible.

Over the past few months, videos have been posted online that depict the candidate walking with difficulty, suggesting she is ill. The footage comes from questionable sources, however, and it looks doctored. Because Clinton did not release information about her pneumonia diagnosis, these conspiracy videos gained greater traction. Her campaign did not release information about her sickness and the candidate thought she could battle through without providing the opposition with new fodder.

Tough as she may be, Clinton’s decision to continue her public appearances despite her illness cost her more speculation about her health and about her trustworthiness. Partnered with the decision to hide her doctor’s diagnosis, by attending the 9/11 memorial she risked getting caught—and caught she was.

Supporters of Clinton contend that the former secretary of state’s health is being questioned at a rate inconsistent with other candidates. President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not publicize that he had polio, and he was not condemned for it. President Ronald Reagan governed the country with Alzheimer’s disease, yet the Republican Party widely reveres him. Because she is a woman, perhaps critics accuse her of health problems, believing she is weaker than male politicians.

However, others believe Clinton has received a fair amount of speculation over her health records. After all, until Wednesday she had not released nearly as much information compared to 2008 presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, or compared to 2012 presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. In a tweet, Senator McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, wrote that she “would just like any journalist to admit the hypocrisy on how they covered [her] fathers [sic] health compared” to Clinton’s.

When presidential candidates, especially those nearing seven decades spent on the planet, do not release their medical history, it raises questions. It nurtures conspiracy theories and plants doubt in the minds of voters. Questions of health are especially damaging to Clinton’s candidacy because much of her credibility rides on her foreign policy acumen. If the candidate suffers from disease, she seems like a less stable leader—not the person you want presiding over conflicts with Russia and China.

With that said, Clinton’s sickness should not be of immense concern; she has left the campaign trail for now, adhering to her doctor’s orders, and is receiving some of the best healthcare in the country. Her pneumonia is contained in one lung, and her antibiotics should help combat the infection. According to her doctor, she is “recovering well.” Clinton’s bigger problems involve her mistake of concealing information about her diagnosis. Political candidates, despite being citizens with rights to privacy, are held to a different standard than regular citizens. Clinton’s health should be something voters are aware of. Especially with her history of mixing up the private life with her public role (her private email server), Clinton should know voters have trust issues.

By releasing her medical records on Wednesday, Clinton has repaired much of the damage. Although Trump shared his health information in a taped interview with “Te Dr. Oz Show,” much of the details surrounding his business remain hidden from the public eye. He refuses to release his tax records. Clinton, therefore, is at least more forthcoming than her opponent.