The "Town Hall" format of the second presidential debate had the candidates walking around the stage as the cameras followed them at all angles. This format was said to favor Barack Obama, and it did though not because of the reason that was alleged. The biggest lie of this campaign is that Obama can put two cogent sentences together without the aid of a teleprompter. As an extemporaneous speaker he suffers from the most debilitating case of lockjaw in U.S. political history. Calvin Coolidge may have spoken little but every word did tell. Unrehearsed and left to his own resources Obama literally goes blank and fills the space with the human equivalent of television static. But nothing about last night's presentation was unexpected or unscripted. A question about his acknowledged drug use — so notorious that he had no choice but to disclose it preemptively in his memoirs — or about how he got to be editor of the Harvard Law Review without ever having written a single article for it, would have thrown him for a loop. He was already well-prepared for an Ayers question, but it never came. Fortunately for Obama, Tom Brokaw was there to intercept any real questions while demonstrating that he can be fully as weird as his onetime competitor Dan Rather.
Obama's "victory" was chronological. Yes, McCain is an old man, and the injuries that he sustained as a young man in the service of his country become more evident the older he gets, as is only to be expected. The stiff gait, bowed shoulders and slightly hunched back contrast with Obamas's ramrod bearing and confident stride (not to mention his shameless voguing). Yet we know more about McCain's health than we do Obama's. McCain released 1200 pages of medical records; Obama, a 1-page letter from his doctor. The results of literally hundreds of tests over a protracted period attest to McCain's good health despite his age and physical limitations. In Obama's case, there is that 1-page letter which raises more questions than it answers.
Not since JFK has the American public known so little about the health of a prospective president. We know now that Kennedy was a very sick man though his youthful appearance belied that fact. Without the numerous medications prescribed to him, JFK could not have sustained the illusion of health and vigor which were so central a part of the myth of Camelot. The drugs, however, which made it possible for him to function physically may have impaired his thinking with what could have been disastrous consequences for this country and the world. As things turned out, the consequences were only disastrous for Cuba.
As regards his own past, Obama has left no stone unburied. His refusal to release his health records is not an isolated incident; it is part and parcel of his penchant for concealment. Black Sheep of Exile ("Sorry to Bother you, Mr. Obama") recently inventoried the great lacunae in his vita curriculum:
1. Occidental College records — Not released
2. Columbia College records — Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper — "Not available"
4. Harvard Law School records — Not released
5. Selective Service Registration — Not released
6. Medical records — Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule — "Not available"
8. Law practice client list — Not released
9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate — Not released
10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth — Not released
11. Harvard Law Review articles published — None
12. University of Chicago scholarly articles — None
13. Record of baptism — Not released or "Not available"
14. Illinois State Senate records —"Not available"
15. Records of the Chicago Annenberg Project — Not released
The American public may be about to elect an absolute stranger as president and one who has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that he remains a stranger at least until Election Day.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I wonder what the media reaction would have been if McCain had released a one-page letter from his doctor as the sum total of his medical history? The general inference would have been that he had something to hide because of his age. Yet the sickest man ever to occupy the White House was also the youngest man ever elected president, John F. Kennedy. Everything about his health except his bad back was concealed from the public. The bad back was a war injury and hence could serve as his "Achilles heel." Unless you count his Nicorette gum, Obama has no "Achilles heel," none, at least, that could be mentioned in 300 words or less.