Is modern mass media a blessing or a curse? The former because we are in the know all day every day, or the latter because it just seems to turn us into hyper-hysterical people who can't put things into perspective anymore?
One of those events that made me question the advantages of our time and age of total information unfolded at a place built to remember 3.000 people killed 15 years ago. The actual event of remembering the 9/11 dead got sidelined by a woman feeling unwell on a hot summer's day in New York.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was diagnosed with a lung infection, chose to keep it a secret and attend the 9/11 commemoration ceremony anyway. That's what made the headlines. The ensuing discussion about her ill-health seemed a little overheated, just like Clinton apparently was feeling herself, when she left the ceremony on Sunday early.
To get a perspective on things: There probably wasn't a president in US history who didn't at some point have to put up with health issues. Indeed, a look back reveals that many presidents had been fighting much more severe and in many cases incurable diseases while in office.
More 2016 election charts by Statista
Some of them, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, actually took their serious affliction to try and change things for the better. He had been infected with polio at the age of 39, resulting in a paralysis of both his legs. He hence funded research which led to the creation of polio vaccines. Roosevelt was the guy who steered America through the Second World War.
John F. Kennedy's presidency is another case in point. Despite his youthful image, Kennedy wasn't the healthiest of presidents in office either. He actually kept his diagnosis of Addison's disease, an incurable disorder of the adrenal glands, from the public. Apparently, he also took medication to get a hold on fits of anxiety. He still was able to avoid nuclear war and solve the Cuban Missile Crisis.
So, looking at it from a historical perspective, Clinton's decision to keep up appearances at the 9/11 ceremony in New York City last Sunday, despite suffering from curable pneumonia, seems less of a threat to national security.
On the contrary, it seems strange to assume that presidential candidates, just like elected presidents, should not fall ill at all - especially considering the amount of pressure and stress they put themselves through.
Healthline magazine has published a more extensive list of presidents and their ailings in the Oval Office.
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