Skip to content

    Men's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Presidential Health No Longer a Secret?

    Cover-ups of Presidential Ailments Were Once Commonplace, but Experts Say That Could Be Changing

    Why the Secrecy?

    Why have past administrations chosen to conceal presidential ailments? Cynics might say the presidents' advisors simply wanted to run the show, but Post believes the answer is more complex. No one knows how news of a serious presidential illness might impact the economy, global relations, or other critical issues. The thought of an ailing president is "threatening."

    The result, Post says, is that political considerations have often trumped medical reality in proclaiming the commander in chief fit for office.

    A New Era

    Post and Sabato agree it's inappropriate and increasingly difficult to deceive the public about a president's health. There is evidence that recent administrations have been more transparent in this area -- for example, by releasing detailed summaries of the president's annual physicals. (See sidebar, "What's in a President's Physical?")

    "In this era of investigative journalism and blogs, there has been a fundamental change," Post says. Presidential health has come under the microscope as "a matter of legitimate public interest."

    The same applies to the health of presidential candidates, Sabato says. Medical information is available for voters to consider. "It's very important in the case of [Republican front-runner] John McCain. He would be the oldest president in American history, and he's already had a bout with skin cancer. So his vice presidential candidate will get even more scrutiny than usual."

    Mitigating McCain's age, Sabato says, is the fact that the senator's mother is "lively" at age 95.

    Sabato says he's unaware of any major medical problems among the Democratic front-runners.

    For all the candidates, he adds, the campaign itself is a kind of medical test. "Most people see them on the campaign trail and see this remarkable expense of energy. The public's view is that anyone who can go through this obstacle course of a nominating process must be vigorous enough for the job."

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    Men shouldn’t ignore.
    man swinging in hammock
    And how to get out it.
     
    shaving tools
    On your shaving skills.
    muscular man flexing
    Four facts that matter.
     
    Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
    Slideshow
    Thoughtful man sitting on bed
    Quiz
     
    Man taking blood pressure
    Slideshow
    doctor holding syringe
    Slideshow
     
    Condom Quiz
    Quiz
    thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
    Slideshow
     
    man running
    Quiz
    older couple in bed
    Video