Hillary Clinton picked a bad time to contract pneumonia. Rumors of her exhaustion have been flying around for a few days, and her first official event after Sunday’s collapse is a television appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this Wednesday.
Update 7:45am: The Clinton campaign has cancelled the Los Angeles trip, according to a report by the Boston Globe.
That appearance will require her to fly out to Los Angeles (the studio is in Burbank), and she’s got a couple of big fundraisers scheduled while she’s there. This includes a “Conversation and Dinner with Hillary Clinton” with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and his wife and their rich, liberal friends pegged at $100,000 a couple.
Flying coast-to-coast with pneumonia is not good for your health. It’s not medically recommended. But if Hillary cancels her California trip, expect a withering chorus of “stamina” from Trump’s gallery of rogues. Don’t expect the media to press Hillary as to why she didn’t just fess up in the first place and tell the world she’s got pneumonia.
Again, it’s all about confirmation bias, and how Trump has set up Clinton’s health as a disqualifying issue for her.
Then there will be the continued mockery for her “basket of deplorables” comment. Of course, Clinton apologized for it, and you’ll never hear it mentioned again without the requisite apology reference from CNN or any of the other Clinton media lickspittles. But Trump media stalwarts like Breitbart and Drudge will make hay with it for a week or two.
Hillary Clinton just had her 47% moment. What a terrible thing she said about so many great Americans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2016
Trump even pulled out the “Internet never forgets” card using President Obama’s tweet about Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark from 2012. Touché.
After Clinton’s swing through Los Angeles, she’s scheduled at a rally in Las Vegas, then back to Washington D.C. to appear at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Friday.
Then there will be a week of debate prep, with no official events scheduled. The debate is on the 26th, and will consist of six 15-minute segments, moderated by NBC News’ Lester Holt. Holt should be a friendly face to Clinton, but not so friendly to Trump.
What this means
I believe that Hillary’s rough patch is going to hurt her in polls, by as much as a statistically significant 3-5 points. That could bring the RCP average from +3.1 to an even tie, or Trump slightly ahead.
When Trump gets a lead in the polls, he tends to feed on it like a shark feeds on blood in the water, and that would create a problem for Clinton, who could head into her first head-to-head debate behind in the polls. He’d lord it over her like he did with Jeb Bush.
Of course, Trump could insert his foot up to the knee into his own throat and whatever bump he gets from Clinton’s stamina attack could evaporate right there.
But it might not, either.
At a time when Clinton should be putting Trump away beyond any ability for him to recover, this health issue is really going to make things much more difficult for her. I write this as an interested but emotionally uninvested observer at this point.
The tipping point
But I do have to ask myself a question: If Hillary’s health is really so frail that she’s easily susceptible to lung infections, she’s taking blood thinners, dealing with deep vein thrombosis, possible recurrences of blood clots in her skull, and occasional symptoms of problems from a previous concussion, at what point do I stop being uninvested?
It’s one thing to look at the race as one between two equally awful political alternatives. It’s another to look at our national security if we can’t depend on a president to be healthy enough to actually govern. I know I could never support Trump, but I have to ask myself at what point I must start to care whether people throw their votes away to “neither.”
What I do know: I’m not at that place yet. All of this about Hillary’s frailty could be exactly what it seems to be: A master play by a master con man who can convince people to buy fake vitamins, bad vodka, overpriced China-made ties, and “how to go bankrupt” real estate classes. But it could be something more.
The next two weeks might tell us quite a lot.