21 October 2016
US voters may care more about whether Hillary Clinton is hiding her health problems than her actual health condition. Photo: Reuters
US voters may care more about whether Hillary Clinton is hiding her health problems than her actual health condition. Photo: Reuters

When US president sneezes, the whole world could catch a cold

US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s health has once again become an issue in the election after she was caught on camera almost passing out at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony in New York City at the weekend.

Her campaign office later announced that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia a few days before the event.

As the old joke about the bikini goes, what it conceals is more interesting than what has been revealed.

Clinton’s recent sickness has further fueled speculations about her health, and aroused public suspicions that she and her campaign staff could have been lying about her real health condition.

Some doubt that she could actually be sicker than she claims.

Candidates’ health and age have always remained a crucial issue in US presidential elections because the office of the US president requires an enormous amount of energy over a long period of time, and could be the most demanding and important job on earth.

Besides, as the leader of the world’s No.1 industrial and nuclear power, the US president’s health could have global implications.

Interestingly, Clinton’s opponent, the Republican nominee Donald Trump, didn’t come after her on her health as many expected.

It might be because he didn’t want to appear like a heartless villain who takes pleasure in mocking a sick woman, thereby further alienating female voters, or it might be because his own health is no better than that of Clinton.

After all, he is almost two years older than her.

Moreover, Trump himself has also come under fire for not being forthcoming enough about his own health condition.

Some suspect that he therefore played down his opponent’s sickness in order not to make health an election issue.

In fact, whoever gets elected, he or she will be the oldest person ever to assume the office of the US president, as Clinton is pushing 69 while Trump is already 70.

As public concern in the US about the health of their presidential candidates is mounting, the two running mates, Tim Kaine of the Democrats and Mike Pence of the Republicans have recently become the focus of public attention.

It is because either of them could become president once their boss is too sick to fulfill his or her role in the future.

Throughout the history of the US, nine vice-presidents eventually became the president.

Given that, the first televised debate between Kaine and Pence on Oct. 4 is no longer a formality, but rather, a much anticipated event which could catch the attention of the entire nation.

That is because either of them could become president over the next four or eight years, and that possibility is getting more and more real.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 14.

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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