In the Interest Of Full Disclosure

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist and the current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is 78 years old and has recently suffered a heart attack. Voters should know everything that can be known about his physical fitness for the hardest job in the world, but Sanders hasyt yet kept a promise to release his medical records to public scrutiny.
Sanders’ many avid fans won’t mind, as they don’t question anything he does or doesn’t or do, and the equally unquestioning fans of President Donald Trump won’t have any standing to complain.
During the last presidential election Trump only released a short letter from his hippie gastroenterologist attesting to his excellent health in such hyperbolic and non-medical terms that it was obvious that Trump had written it himself, as the hippie gastroenterologist later admitted to the press. Since becoming president Trump has submitted to annual physical examinations by White House physicians, but the announced results have been vague and clearly overstated Trump’s height and understated his weight, and one of the most enthused physicians was offered the job of Secretary of Veterans Affairs despite any lack of experience running a vast bureaucracy.
Trump has been similarly opaque about his tax returns and ongoing business dealings and educational records and lack of any military record at all in a time of war, as well as his dealings with foreign leaders and other presidential actions. There’s nothing written in law that requires Trump or any other president to divulge any of this vital information to American voters, but over the past many decades it’s become one of those norms the public has come to expect. Alas, the norms we once relied on are no longer operative.
President Barack Obama arguably started it all when he declined to release his academic records, even though he was indisputably a graduate of prestigious Columbia University and had been the first black editor of the Harvard Law School’s Review while graduating with honors from that very prestigious program. At the time pretty much every Republican including ourselves and the soon-to-be Republican Trump and all of his fans found this quite suspicious, suspecting he had benefited from some affirmative action programs. Trump has gone to even more extraordinary lengths to prevent his educational records from being released, however, with his now-imprisoned personal lawyer threatening lawsuits against any school Trump ever attended if they ever released anything about his school days, and we can’t blame any damned Democrat for suspecting that Trump got into the relative minor leagues of the Ivy League and was graduated without any honors solely because of his rich father’s affirmative actions.
Obama also delayed release of his birth certificate, which Trump and his fans found very suspicious. but when he did even Republican nominee Trump told his followers that “President Obama was born in America, period, which pretty much settled that matter. As far we’re concerned there are far better reasons to oppose Sanders’ candidacy than his advanced age and questionable physical fitness, most prominent being his self-described social\ ism, and we hol out faint hope that the Democratic primary electorate and the rest of the republic will hopefully take that all into account. Even as the Democratic party veers crazy left, though, the Republicans are all in with an obviously obese and aged and suspiciously wealthy president who won’t reveal anything about his still wholly owned businesses or tax returns, and we can’t entirely blame any damned Democrat for violating the norms we once relied on.

≤div style=”text-indent:>20px;‘No matter how it turns out, w{e’ll be hoping for a return to the decades-old norms of full disclosure from our awful presidential choices, but for now neither side is playing by the good old rules.

— Bud Norman

An Unscheduled Hospital Visit

President Donald Trump spent a couple of hours in Walter Reed Hospital on Saturday, and there’s much speculation about why. Trump has “tweeted” it was just “phase one” of his annual checkup, but there are reasons to doubt that.
For one thing, Trump’s last annual checkup was only nine months ago, and he doesn’t strike us as the sort who wants to undergo another one any sooner than he has to. For another thing, checkups are rarely done in phases. For yet another thing, the hospital visit was not on the president’s published daily schedule and seems to have arranged hastily. Also, there’s a medical unit at the White House that has previously sufficed for presidential checkups.
The biggest reason for the skepticism, though, is that what Trump says so often turns out to be a big fat lie. Speaking of big and fat, his previous checkup results clearly overstated his height and understated his weight, and Trump was so pleased by he nominated one of the doctors to be director of the Veterans Administration, although the nomination was withdrawn when the Republicans in Congress after allegations of staff harassment and script-writing surfaced and everyone noticed the doctor had no administrative experience.
During the election Trump broke with longstanding tradition by refusing to release his medical records, and instead offered a four-paragraph letter from his weird-looking gastroenterologist testifying that the candidate’s “strength and stamina are extraordinary” and “his laboratory tests results are astonishingly excellent,” and oddly enough that “Mr. Trump has had a medical examination showed only positive results.” The letter concluded that Trump would be “the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency,” and judging by that hyperbolic prose style and the things that no licensed physician would ever say it was clear that Trump dictated it, which the doctor later acknowledged.
Trump feels obliged to always present an image of alpha male invincibility, bragging about his artificially deflated golf scores and even his penis size, as well as constantly denigrating the energy levels and physical attractiveness of his foes, so he’d surely be loathe to admit to even the most minor sort of ailment that might bring a mere human being to a hospital for a couple of hours. Given that at 73-years-of-age Trump is the oldest president ever, with a well known penchant for fast food and an aversion to any exercise that doesn’t involve a golf cart, as well as well-established record of telling big fat lies, the skepticism about Trump’s brief time in the hospital is inevitable.
We’re not prone to conspiracy theories about a politician’s health, such as the ones Trump fans peddled back when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton fainted on a hot New York City sidewalk and then died and was replaced by a body double, but it’s easy to believe that Trump had some minor ailment that more normal people would admit to. We truly hope that’s the most benign explanation for Trump’s impromptus motorcade visit to Walter Reed, and that whatever tests Trump had there yielded only those hoped-for negative results, and that he soldiers on through his likely impeachment.
Even so, we’d be more reassured about the health of our septuagenarian president if he weren’t so big and fat and such a big fat liar.

— Bud Norman

Doctor, Lawyer, Chief Executive

President Donald Trump likes to boast that he hires the very best people, but recent news about some of his choices of doctors and lawyers cast doubt on the claim.
For 39 years Trump’s personal physician was a gastroenterologist named Harold Bornstein, who became briefly famous during the presidential campaign after releasing a letter attesting to Trump’s good health. The letter referred to a “complete medical examination that showed only positive results,” an odd thing for a doctor to say, and contrarily insisted that “laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent,” and “if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Between the doctor’s hippie-dippy appearance and the distinctly Trumpian hyperbole of the letter he provided fodder for a week’s worth of late night comedy monologues, but the die-hard fans took the doctor at his word and Trump wound up winning the electoral vote.
We’re sure Trump appreciated the overly kind of words, but eventually Bernstein fell out of the president’s favor, as so many Trump associates eventually do. He revealed to The New York Times that Trump takes finasteride, a drug that stimulates hair growth and slows balding, and complained about the way he was treated at the inauguration, and now he’s telling everybody that shortly afterwards Trump had his bodyguard and another rough-looking fellow show up at his office to seize all of the president’s medical records and warn him to take down a picture of Trump smiling next to Bornstein. The doctor also now freely admits that Trump wrote that famous letter about his excellent health, just as all those late night comedians and any sentient citizen suspected, and he doesn’t seem inclined to do the president any further favors.
Trump is entitled to be annoyed that Bornstein violated his privacy revealing the finasteride prescription, even if Bornstein  did so to explain a low presidential PSA level the Times had somehow found about, and when Trump became president he started seeing the White House doctor and it was necessary to have his medical records sent along. Still, the seizure sounds more like a “raid” as Bernstein calls it and less like the “standard operating procedure” that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee described. In any case, Trump is going to need another doctor to attest to his astonishingly excellent health, and it’s not clear who it will be.
Trump’s last doctor was White House medical unit director Admiral Ronny Jackson, who had also served Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and was well-regarded by both, and he so endeared himself to Trump by offering an effusive and suspicious assessment of Trump’s astonishingly excellent health that was also much ridiculed on the late night comedy shows. Trump was so impressed by the performance that he nominated Jackson to lead the 370,000 employees of the nationwide and byzantine Veterans Administration, despite what Trump admitted was a lack of any relevant experience for the job. Jackson soon withdrew his name from consideration for the post, rather than face congressional confirmation and answer the charges that he was a mean and incompetent manager of his small office and frequently drunk on the job, and shortly afterward it was announced that for undisclosed reasons he would no longer be the president’s physician.
Meanwhile, several of Trump’s past and present attorneys have their own problems. For many years Trump relied on Michael Cohen as a lawyer and “fixer,” but in those capacities Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment in the late stages of the election to a pornographic video performer called Stormy Daniels to stop talking about a sexual encounter she claimed to have had with the president shortly after his third wife gave birth to his fifth child, which wound up having the Department of Justice’s southern district of New York executing a very thorough search warrant on his home, office, and hotel room, and now he looks in need of a darned good lawyer of his own. Cohen was also involved in a deal Trump was pursuing during the presidential campaign to build a skyscraper in Moscow. Trump is suddenly telling his friends at “Fox and Friends” that he actually had little to do with Cohen, although he did let slip that Cohen did represent him in that “crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” and his friends at The National Enquirer are running a front page headline about “Trump’s Fixer’s Lies & Secrets,” and it seems the White House is readying for anything Cohen might have to say about either the porn actress or that pesky “Russia thing” a special counsel is aggressively investigating.
Trump has already defenestrated a few of his “Russia thing” lawyers, the most recent being the famously mustachioed Ty Cobb, who claims to be a distant descendant of the baseball great of the same name, and he’s had trouble finding replacements up to the challenge that special counsel’s formidable team. The president has a reputation for not paying his legal bills and ignoring sound legal advice, and even the Fox News regular he claimed to have hired wound up turning down the gig. He did get Rudy Giuliani, formerly a formidable federal prosecutor and remarkably successful New York City mayor, and on Wednesday he hired Emmett Flood, described by The Washington Post as a”low-key, serious” sort who served as President Bill Clinton’s lawyer during the impeachment trial that resulted from an affair with a White House intern. Still, they have their own problems to deal with.
Giuliani sat down for an extended interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday, which is seemingly the safest place for a Trump representative to be, but he wound up saying that Trump actually paid that $130,000 to the porno performer to stop talking about that alleged sexual encounter Trump has never explicitly denied. Giuliani did so to make the debatable argument that no campaign disclosure laws had been broken, just as Bornstein had disclosed the embarrassing anti-balding drug to dismiss a more serious matter, but it contradicted the president’s previous claims that it was Cohen’s crazy deal and you’d have to ask him about that, and even Hannity seemed discomfited by the disclosure, so of course the late night comics had a great time of it, and there’s no telling what Giuliani’s boss will make of it.
We’ll take the Post’s word for it that this Flood fellow is a  serious and low-key “steady hand,”and we note that Clinton’s presidency somehow survived his tawdry sex scandals and subsequent impeachment trial, even if his reputation took a hard enough hit that his harridan of a wife wound up osing a presidential election to the likes of Trump, and maybe he’ll have just as much success with his newest client. He seems to have a tough row to hoe, though, as we say here in Kansas.

— Bud Norman