Should Presidential Candidates Be Required To Undergo Independent Medical Reviews?

Much like their predecessors, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have released only limited information about their health. It may be time for that to change.

 

Stethoscope

If he were to win the election in November, Donald Trump would become the oldest person to ever become President of the United States, exceeding by more than half a year the  69 years, 349 days that Ronald Reagan was when he became President. If she wins the election in November, Hillary Clinton would become the second oldest person to take the office, falling some ten months short of Reagan’s age in 1981, but well ahead of William Henry Harrison, who was 68 years, 23 days old when he took office on March 4, 1841. If either Trump or Clinton were to serve two full terms in office, they would be 78 years and 77 years old respectively when their successor took office on January 20, 2021. Because of this, there’s been at least some attention paid to the issue of the health of the candidates. For her part, Hillary Clinton, who had a health scare shortly before leaving office in December 2012 when she reportedly fainted in her Washington, D.C. home and suffered what was reported at the time as a concussion that we later learned had developed into a blood clot near her brain that required hospitalization, released a two-page letter from her primary care physician detailing her condition and the medications she was taking in little more than the most general of ways. Donald Trump, meanwhile, released as his medical “report” a short, bizarre letter from his purported physician that reads more like a Trump speech than something that a doctor would write, and which was apparently composed in five minutes while Trump waited outside the doctor’s office in his limousine.

For the most part, these disclosures are similar to what we’ve gotten from recent Presidential candidates in the way of disclosures about their past or present medical condition or revelations regarding what medications they may have been on. In the past, of course, the public was largely unaware of Presidential health. President Woodrow Wilson spent the final years of his Presidency largely incapacitated in the White House thanks to a stroke, and there have been persistent rumors in the years afterward that, in many cases, orders and decisions purported to come from the President were actually being made by Wilson’s wife Edith and his chief aides, who kept the President’s true condition a closely guarded secret. Similarly, few Americans were even aware that Franklin D. Roosevelt was even in a wheelchair, never mind the fact that his health by the time of the 1944 election was so precarious that Democratic Party officials acted to remove Henry Wallace as FDR’s running mate and replace him with Harry Truman for fear of what might happen should Wallace, a man to the left of FDR who had long expressed sympathy for the Soviet Union, should become President. Similarly, Americans were unaware of the fact that President Kennedy suffered from Addison’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that can become debilitating over time.

Additionally, the lack of full disclosure has led unsurprisingly to a host of conspiracy theories, especially regarding the current health condition of the two major party candidates for office. In the case of Hillary Clinton, conservatives have taken it upon themselves to put forward conspiracy theories claiming that Clinton is suffering from some undisclosed ailment, typically by using photos and video that have obviously been altered or taken out of context to support their argument. These claims have, of course, been largely debunked and discredited, but they remain common fodder on the right side of the political spectrum and will likely follow Clinton into office. In Trump’s case the strangeness of the letter drafted by his physician has led many to wonder if he isn’t hiding something regarding his health, although there has not been a similar level of conspiracy theory mongering among Democrats about that issue.

It all leads one to wonder, if anything, could be done about this issue that balances both the right to medical privacy of candidates and office holders and the right of the public to have at least some knowledge about the fitness for office of the people competing for what is obviously among the most stressful and demanding in the world. As a way of trying to resolve these issues, Dan Diamond discusses one possible solution in Politico Magazine:

It’s reasonable to worry about a candidate’s health. There’s an entire amendment to the Constitution that centers on whether a president is mentally or physically able to carry out the duties of the office. And this is an especially pressing question this year, when the two major-party candidates represent the oldest pair in presidential election history. But, even in more mainstream outlets, the reasoned speculation you might expect seems to have been replaced by untamed conjecture.

One reason for this is that there’s a vacuum of information about our candidates. That problem is largely preventable, medical ethicists say. “If people care about health—and they don’t, they care about politics—if they did, they’d have an independent panel of doctors checking out the candidates,” says NYU bioethicist Art Caplan.

The idea of asking candidates to undergo an independent medical review isn’t new; it’s kicked around medical conferences and academic journals for years. But the concept has gained traction this campaign season as conspiracy theories about Clinton’s and Trump’s health have gone viral. Caplan and others argue that a panel of a half-dozen doctors could do a comprehensive workup of the candidates—checking everything from their bloodwork to physical fitness and even mental health—and share a summary that voters could find trustworthy and useful. “They don’t have to get down to psychoanalysis,” Caplan caveats.

Here’s the drawback with our current system: We don’t actually know how healthy Clinton or Trump are. Candidates don’t undergo any kind of independent examination and they aren’t obligated to release their medical records, either. And what they do share isn’t always the full story, given the risk of political damage. “The things that we’d want to know are the things, unfortunately, that people won’t want to reveal,” says internal medicine doctor Connie Mariano.

As the White House physician to three presidents, Mariano has seen the rigors of the job up close, and she ticked off the list of conditions that candidates might be tempted to hide. “Mental illness, like being treated for depression. Seizure disorder. If they have cancer—will there be a reoccurrence. Have they ever had a stroke, or heart disease.” Fairly or not, those conditions have been perceived as disqualifying.

(…)

It’s important to know as much about our next presidents as possible—their policy positions, their temperament, even their health information, given the possibility of electing a president who isn’t long for the office. But it’s also clear that as long as candidates can cherry-pick their physicians, they can essentially cherry-pick their medical reports, too.

There is a way to try and fix the broken system, and it was former President Jimmy Carter who helped identify it. In 1994, more than a decade after he left office, Carter floated an idea in the Journal of the American Medical Association: An independent commission to evaluate the health of the president, in case of disability. Carter’s proposal never went anywhere, but was a high-profile acknowledgement that medical fitness for the presidency should be taken seriously, and de-politicized as much as possible.

Mariano says that she served on an American College of Physicians subcommittee that looked at a similar proposal to require presidential candidates to undergo an independent medical evaluation, although the idea was eventually shelved. “We debated it back and forth, and then reality set in,” she says. “Most candidates bristle at releasing private information” and might seek to avoid a medical review.

But candidates also bristle at false attacks, and it’s clear that as long as the system doesn’t require them to disclose complete records, the medical rumors aren’t going away. Martin Shkreli—the embattled ‘Pharma Bro’—conducted an hours-long online video session this month where he “diagnosed” Clinton with Parkinson’s disease. Seizing on Sean Hannity’s prime-time series of “medical investigations” into Clinton’s health, Trump is actively trying to turn Clinton’s admission that she “short-circuited” when answering a recent question into a subtle attack on her mental fitness.

That’s one reason why some prominent doctors have new interest in the old idea of an independent review. “I’ve been proposing a panel for more than six years,” NYU’s Caplan said, arguing that when figures like Rudy Guiliani attack a candidate’s health, it’s bringing unnecessary legitimacy to what used to be fringe conspiracy theories.

Ethicists point out that a mandatory medical review might not be feasible. While some important jobs—think airline pilot—do require medical approval, it would be harder to make the case for a politician and would raise complicated legal questions.

So “let’s assume it is not a government panel,” muses Harvard ethicist I. Glenn Cohen, “but rather something that candidates voluntarily undertake.” He points to how the American Bar Association, for instance, has historically rated the qualifications of Supreme Court nominees. Many lawmakers say they consider the ABA’s assessment as one factor among many when vetting a judicial appointee. Yes, it’s possible for candidates to buck a voluntary expectation—Trump’s doing it right now with his tax returns—but it reframes the focus, Cohen argues.

As Diamond readily acknowledges, there are possibly benefits and downsides to proposals such as this:

It’s possible that an independent medical commission could diffuse a lot of the controversy over presidential health. In a world where nearly 60 percent of adults take prescription drugs, many for heart disease or mental health conditions, an independent medical commission probably wouldn’t hurt candidates as much as the perception that they’re hiding something—and the wild theories that spawns.

Of course, the opposite scenario could unfold: That voters seize on bouts with cancer, heart disease or other legitimate health concerns that turn out to be irrelevant. Despite the many questions about McCain’s fitness for office in 2008, the Arizona senator hasn’t had serious medical issues in the past seven-and-a-half years, as the end of President Barack Obama’s second term looms. Franklin Roosevelt was one of our least healthy presidents, physically, and yet he steered the United States through a depression and a World War.

This is an issue where I’m not entire sure where I stand at the moment. On the one hand, I agree that it is important for Americans to know as much as reasonably possible about the people running for President, and that the health of the candidates is certainly a relevant concern going forward since it could tell us something about the candidate that is arguably important and could effect how they do their job or whether or not they actually can do their job. At the same time, the possibility that the public could misinterpret the results, or that opponents will latch on to something that is largely irrelevant as a political issue is quite high. For example, what if a candidate had been on a mild anti-depressant in the past, as many Americans have been.. The probability that this could be misinterpreted or exploited would seem to be quite high, even though the risk of such medication having adverse side effects is low. Evidence of a candidate being treated for high cholesterol or high blood pressure could be used in a similar manner. This, no doubt, is one reason why candidates in the past have been reluctant to reveal too much about their medical history even though the public should arguably be confident about a candidate willing to do what it takes to take care of their health. Another argument against the idea of mandatory independent medical reviews is the fact that, as President, one of these candidates will have access to some of the best medical care in the world at a moments notice. Given that, requiring them to reveal potentially embarrassing details about their health status is arguably unnecessary.

As it stands, of the eight Presidents who died in office, four of them died of what amounts to ‘natural’ causes, the most recent being FDR in 1945. Since then, there have been a handful of serious health incidents involving sitting Presidents. Perhaps the most notable involved President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a serious heart attack while traveling in Colorado. Eisenhower recovered from that attack, though, and went on to be overwhelmingly re-elected a year later. A year after that, Eisenhower suffered a mild stroke that left him temporarily debilitated. Along with other considerations, these incidents eventually led Congress to pass, and the states to quickly ratify, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which sets up a procedure involving the Vice-President, the Cabinet, and Congress to deal with Presidential disability, something that the Constitution had failed to address for nearly 200 years. Since then, there have been a number of incidents involving Presidents who have needed surgery for one health matter or another, but very little that amounted to a serious health condition other than the doubt that surrounded the White House on March 30, 1981 when President Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton. Since Reagan, Presidents Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all been relatively healthy while they served in office. At some point, though, it’s likely that the law of averages will play out and we’ll end up with a President with a serious health condition that voters knew nothing about before electing that person to office. Before we get there, perhaps we should ask ourselves if candidates ought to be required to be far more open about their physical and mental health than they have been to date.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Health, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    I’m for review for an independent commission.These folks running for Presidency of the United States, dammit. That’s a tough, stressful job that visibly ages people in office , and that includes the power to launch nuclear missiles and kill people on the other side of the world with flying robots. We don’t need to know EVERY detail, but we do need to know that they are healthy enough to answer that 3 AM phone call.
    I’m also for laws requiring that Presidential nominees release at least the last 10 years of tax returns, but that’s another issue.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    It seems obvious that Hillary Clinton has some medical issues that need addressing. But personally I’d be interested in seeing what medications Donald Trump is on that’s causing this behavior of his

  3. steve says:

    Many Fortune 500 companies require a detailed physical exam of people they are considering as a CEO. When you have that much money at risk you want to eliminate avoidable risks. We should do the same for POTUS. I would favor a review by an independent panel. It should include some kind of cognitive assessment also. FTR, I would also favor detailed tax returns for the 8 years prior to the projected election date. If privacy is that important to a person, they shouldn’t run for office.

    As an aside, I think it is pretty unethical for physicians to make these online “diagnoses”. I wouldn’t accept as valid any of them, even if it would confirm your own observational bias.

    Steve

  4. Thor thormussen says:

    What about Psych Evals for Trump’s voters?

  5. gVOR08 says:

    “They don’t have to get down to psychoanalysis,” Caplan caveats.

    So in Trump’s case, what would be the point?

    While the appeal of a medical evaluation is obvious, it would open a huge can of worms. Do we want to spend a Presidential debate arguing about whether high blood pressure is worse than high cholesterol? Once we have a medical report, there would be a hue and cry for psych evaluation, as it’s clearly at least as important.

    Candidates don’t release transcripts because it would just be a can of worms. We see tax returns, usually, because Nixon, under fire, created a precedent and we continue it as best we can because it seems a sensible thing. McCain kind of released his medical records because there was obvious cause for concern. That didn’t seem to establish a precedent, perhaps because no one was worried about Obama or Romney’s health. Let’s leave it at that. Let’s not set a precedent just because the Mighty Right Wing Wurlitzer is all lit up about nothing again. Shirley Sherrod, Lori Lerner, Acorn, Planned Parenthood…, when do we stop letting the Republican character assassination machine destroy people?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Lincoln suffered from chronic constipation. Eisenhower chain-smoked. JFK had a bad back. Reagan had Alzheimers toward the end. I’d bet a good 20% of presidents would qualify as heavy drinkers if not alcoholics.

    And that’s not getting into mental health. Imagine that snake pit of narcissism, sociopathy and god complexes.

    What about their DNA profiles? Should we know if they are more or less prone to psoriasis? More or less likely to get some form of dementia? Where does this end?

    No. I don’t think we can require medical tests. Presidents today, air traffic controllers and surgeons tomorrow, Home Depot clerks next week. If the American voter cannot reach a decision with the available data then we need to start thinking in terms of a benign dictatorship, because democracy will have failed.

  7. James Pearce says:

    @Eric Florack:

    It seems obvious that Hillary Clinton has some medical issues that need addressing.

    Nothing “seems obvious.” It’s either obvious…or it’s not.

    That said, it “seems obvious” that any kind of medical test for presidential candidates would be used for political, and not medical, purposes. It’s less about making sure our candidates are in good health, and more about using supposed “health issues” against them.

    Let’s resist that urge and reacquaint ourselves with the concept of good faith.

  8. anjin-san says:

    @Eric Florack:

    It seems obvious that Hillary Clinton has some medical issues that need addressing.

    Right. This is from the guy who told us about the coming “Democrat civil war, worse than Chicago” in 2008. And that “Obama can’t win” and that he had “special inside information, not available to most people” (turned out the insider info was McCain press releases) that detailed the late McCain surge in ’08 that would sweep him into the White House.

    What seems obvious is that you operate at the level of crackpot right wing chain emails, and no higher.

  9. Slugger says:

    I lived during JFK’s murder and Nixon’s resignation. The system works well. No problem; no need for change.

  10. JKB says:

    Well, the first question is what are the objective medical criteria that would disqualify someone for the Presidency?

    A medical board review would be permitting a very small group of people to circumvent the voters.

    In addition, a physician declaration of health is not worth much. There are plenty of instances where someone has been declared in good health and died of a non-injury cause right after. My aunt tells the story of a woman she knew whom the doctor declared in good health better than expected for her age. She stood up to dress and dropped dead right there.

    And if a board did declare a candidate unfit, the only due process would be to let them still stand for election and let the voters have their say. Therefore, any such declaration would be assailed as biased either by politics or medical bigotry.

  11. dennis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    It seems obvious that Hillary Clinton has some medical issues that need addressing.

    What would those issues be, Mr. Florack; and, how do you know?

  12. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    Well, the first question is what are the objective medical criteria that would disqualify someone for the Presidency?

    Bad hair.

    (Kidding.)

    There is no “objective medical criteria” that would disqualify someone for the Presidency. It’s all insinuation and bullshit, and most likely, much of it is “payback” for all the insinuations about Dick Cheney and John McCain’s health.

  13. Argon says:

    “Should Presidential Candidates Be Required To Undergo Independent Medical Reviews?”

    No.

  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Eric Florack:

    But personally I’d be interested in seeing what medications Donald Trump isshould be on that’s causing to prevent this behavior of his

    An alternative view to the question. But I think that Trump is actually and simply a deplorably low human being–a condition that cannot be treated by medical or psychological science. Some people are merely comprehensively (or nearly so) self-centered and/or evil.

  15. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @michael reynolds: Medical science can only go so far. As noted above, some of our greatest presidents had chronic health conditions. Theodore Roosevelt, advocate of the strenuous life, barely made it to 60, while William Howard Taft, bulk and all, lived to 72 or 73. We need to know if there are any time bombs lurking in a candidate’s health; beyond that, there’s no assurance.

  16. john430 says:

    Interesting question. If they had diagnosed Obama’s Narcissism and accompanying Borderline Personality Disorder we may have avoided a whole host of problems.

  17. Gustopher says:

    This is why we have Vice Presidents — it’s a process that works.

  18. grumpy realist says:

    @john430: Ah, diagnosed by the same idiots who thought a woman with no brain had cerebral matter, no doubt.

  19. anjin-san says:

    @john430:

    Obama’s Narcissism and accompanying Borderline Personality Disorder

    Well that’s cute. Can you make a credible argument to support this statement? Or are you just another member of Donald Trump’s Lame Hot Air Club Band?

  20. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:

    A medical board review would be permitting a very small group of people to circumvent the voters.

    I’ve not heard anyone seriously suggest that a “medical review board” should qualify or disqualify a candidate.

    I think that Americans understand that anyone can be pronounced “healthy” today and drop dead the next day – such is the human condition. That said, I believe that Americans would like to know if a candidate has a pre-existing condition that has the potential to compromise the president. The “potential to compromise” evaluation ought be made by the voters, based on objective data provided by qualified professionals who are not aligned with the candidate.

    Would we really be talking about this if we had a letter from Trump’s PCP that actually laid out objective data in a professional and medically coherent manner?

    Dr Bornstein’s letter is effectively a “middle-finger” to anyone what wants to assure themselves that DT is medically fit.

    DT might as well have said that my medical history, just as my tax returns, are none of your f’…ing business.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @john430:

    Oh, we knew Obama was black. Which is what you meant, of course. Narcissism? Borderline Personality? You have to be an idiot to believe either applies to Obama. Or an idiot who can’t see past color, and wants to dress up his diagnosis of “uppity negro.”

    Borderline personality? Really? A man who spends all his free time with his picture-perfect family? Who passed up a lucrative legal career to go community organizing? Who demonstrates self-knowledge in his autobiography? Who has barely shown any emotion, let alone the kind of raging instability Trump demonstrates every time he opens his mouth? Who demonstrates his empathy in every speech he makes?

    Yeah. Right. He’s black, all right, and that’s all you will ever see.

  22. MBunge says:

    I don’t know how it could possibly work in practice but I don’t understand how anyone can argue against the principle of having as much information as possible about the person who will be the next President of the United States.

    Mike

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    Trump’s entire response now amounts to, “No, you are!” His cult of cretins regurgitates it. I’m waiting for Cheetoh Jesus to start tweeting, “I’m rubber and you’re glue!”

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    Because information is not always useful. Do we need to know whether Trump has dry stools? Or Hillary has discharge?

    We are not picking a king. Neither of them has to lead us in battle or produce an heir. If a POTUS is incapacitated by ill-health we have mechanisms in place, including a Vice President. Tom Eagleton had ECT, we found out, and got Spiro Agnew instead, who was a very healthy criminal.

    The American voter has enough trouble paying attention to the issues, let’s not dumb this down still further. I offer my corollary to GIGO for the average voter: FISO. Facts In, Stupid Out.

  25. Thor thormussen says:

    If you can look at Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and conclude that Obama is the one suffering from personality disorders, you just diagnosed someone, but it’s not who you think it is 😀

  26. Mu says:

    It is amazing that to buy a gun you need to at least pass a ATF 4473 test, which disqualifies chronic drug users, drunkards or people with psychiatric problems. Not so for being handed the nuclear button.

  27. Thor thormussen says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can argue against the principle of having as much information as possible about the person who will be the next President of the United States.

    I do. Maybe it’s because I was in a field where we had to study technical communication, but I wrote my thesis paper for that class on an example of how more information can produce worse results, which is a well-known situation in communication.

  28. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    I don’t know how it could possibly work in practice but I don’t understand how anyone can argue against the principle of having as much information as possible about the person who will be the next President of the United States.

    Sure, but where do you draw the line? Somewhere between medical information and nude photos?

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: Ouch. Now I’m going to need brain bleach for the rest of the day, curse you.

  30. Thor thormussen says:

    if reagan had submitted to a public medical exam in 1984, would he have been allowed to run?

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    The “potential to compromise” evaluation ought be made by the voters, based on objective data provided by qualified professionals who are not aligned with the candidate.

    Which assumes that those voters will be capable/willing to use such objective data in a wise, competent and responsible manner. Color me skeptical.

  32. stonetools says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I guess you missed those naked statues of Trump :-).

    Hey, you’re a scientist. You’re not supposed to be capable of being grossed out- but if you are, don’t click on the link!

  33. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Color me skeptical.

    Understand your skepticism, however there are still a few of us out in voterland who are paying attention and can make wise decisions- at least as it applies to their vote.

    Both (or all) candidates for the Chief Executive Officer of our country should be open and honest about their health. I judge that is not the situation at this moment.

    @Thor thormussen: Having had some experience with technical communications, I’d agree. However, when information is transmitted in a standardized format, having all the pertinent information is generally preferable to the absence of information.

    I would have preferred to “know” where the WMDs were in Iraq before invading.

  34. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    however there are still a few of us out in voterland who are paying attention and can make wise decisions (emphasis added)

    …so everyone should get that information? Still not sold. Murphy’s Law coefficient is too high. There’s too many “WA! Didn’t see that comin'” events in life now to welcome this one.

    Hold my beer while I release the medical records of the candidates to the public.

    O.T. but I heard that Bullets and Burgers is being sued for wrongful death of the staff member who was teaching the 5-year old to fire and Uzi.

  35. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    …so everyone should get that information? Still not sold. Murphy’s Law coefficient is too high.

    Point taken, however, should that same principle apply to tax returns? How about foreign investments?

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    I’m sure this is a fun discussion in the abstract and all, but it’s useless: the Constitution establishes certain criteria to run for president (a natural-born citizen of the US, over 35 years old, who has been resident of the US for 14 years and has not already been elected president twice before). Once you pass those, you are eligible. That’s all you need. Absent a Constitutional amendment, there is no legal body or authority in the United States that has the power or jurisdiction to require any sort of medical review. So all we’re doing is discussing whether something than can NEVER happen, SHOULD happen.

    Which, yes, welcome to the Internet and all….

  37. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Once you pass those, you are eligible.

    Gee, my bad, I didn’t realize we were discussing ELIGIBILITY. Rather, I thought were discussing SUITABILITY for the job.

    Obviously, with DTs challenge yesterday to HRC on medical records, he thinks it has merit.

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Gee, my bad, I didn’t realize we were discussing ELIGIBILITY. Rather, I thought were discussing SUITABILITY for the job.

    No, the headline of Doug’s piece is:

    Should Presidential Candidates Be Required To Undergo Independent Medical Reviews? (bolding mine).

    and many commenters above discuss it in terms of a requirement.

  39. Pch101 says:

    At some point, though, it’s likely that the law of averages will play out and we’ll end up with a President with a serious health condition that voters knew nothing about before electing that person to office.

    I think that you are referring to FDR. And look at how that turned out.

    Forgetting the fact that a mandate like this may not pass constitutional muster and would surely be abused by those who make a point of turning molehills into mountains, the average voter isn’t in a position to use this information intelligently. (How many of us have attended medical school?)

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pch101:

    I think that you are referring to FDR. And look at how that turned out.

    And Wilson, and Kennedy, and Reagan….this has happened frequently in the 20th century.

  41. al-Alameda says:

    @john430:

    Interesting question. If they had diagnosed Obama’s Narcissism and accompanying Borderline Personality Disorder we may have avoided a whole host of problems.

    Were you wearing a white lab coat when you
    evaluated and ‘diagnosed’ Obama’s personality?

  42. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    However your comment is the first use of the word “eligible”.

    So to answer Doug’s specific question, NO. Whatever else , the effort to amend the Constitution for this issue is not worth it. On that you and I agree.

    Whether it (medical records release) is advisable, or politically advantageous, or useful is a subject that can be discussed. Apparently DT thinks it is worthwhile.

    Frankly, I don’t see much distinction between medical records and tax records. Both provide insight into the candidate’s history.

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    However your comment is the first use of the word “eligible”.

    It’s the first use of the specific word, not of the concept. Discussion of whether something is required implies the concept of whether a person who has or has not met that requirement is eligible.

  44. Blue Galangal says:

    @john430:

    Speaking as someone married for many years to a diagnosed BPD, I have some experience with this disorder and am willing to opine from my own armchair that Obama suffers from neither BPD nor NPD. But here are the experts.

    People with BPD may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

    Other symptoms include

    Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
    A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
    Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
    Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
    Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
    Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
    Chronic feelings of emptiness
    Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
    Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
    Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

    NPD from the Mayo Clinic

    DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

    Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    Exaggerating your achievements and talents
    Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
    Requiring constant admiration
    Having a sense of entitlement
    Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
    Taking advantage of others to get what you want
    Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
    Being envious of others and believing others envy you
    Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

  45. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: I fully anticipate that the people running for office will be venal and corrupt, so I don’t pay all that much attention to information about their taxes or investment portfolios. Case in point: the fact that the Clintons seem to pay taxes based on taking only basic deductions doesn’t make Hillary more likely to find “her inner progressive” when elected–she will still be the relatively neocon foreign policy and centrist economic policy person that she is now.

    And Republicans will still treat her administration as the third Obama administration and try to make her a one term President. Even so, she is still a better option than the other clowns available.

  46. gVOR08 says:

    @Blue Galangal: On NPD you properly left any conclusion to the reader. May I be the first to observe that it sure does seem to describe someone in the news.

  47. Tyrell says:

    Both candidates have formed transition teams and they are maneuvering for White House jobs. I hear there is a waiting list for the position of being in charge of Trump’s hair dryer.

  48. pylon says:

    Tax returns show the business relationships and charities supported by a candidate. I can see the relevance. Detailed medical reports would be rarely relevant, and would give a campaign like Trump’s more opportunity for mischief, innuendo and smears.

  49. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Alameda:

    “Were you wearing a white lab coat when you evaluated and ‘diagnosed’ Obama’s personality?”

    And did the sleeves button behind you?

  50. grumpy realist says:

    @stonetools: That’s for biologists. We physicists can be a wee more squeamish.

  51. john430 says:

    @Blue Galangal:
    Well you sure listed several Obama traits. Like, Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
    Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees. So much for BPD

    However, ALL NPD characteristics you listed show up in Obama:

    Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    Exaggerating your achievements and talents
    Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
    Requiring constant admiration
    Having a sense of entitlement
    Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
    Taking advantage of others to get what you want
    Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
    Being envious of others and believing others envy you
    Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner