Prior to this incident, and the revelation afterwards that she had been previously diagnosed with pneumonia, the 68-year-old Democratic Party candidate had seen her extensive lead in the polls shrink as Donald Trump had closed the gap to the point where they were neck in neck. Now, suddenly, a man whom most felt had no chances of even winning the Republican Party nomination is zeroing in on the White House in November.
Not that Donald Trump is a spring chicken himself. At 70 the billionaire property and real estate tycoon is at an age when most in the US would be more comfortable with taking their grandkids to the mall rather than running for president. Yet Trump, on the contrary, appears to be a man in rude health as he continues campaigning at full tilt, pledging to make his own medical records public in order to prove that in contrast to his opponent he is fit for the rigors of high political office.
That being said, just because Hillary Clinton was filmed collapsing into the arms of an aide, does not necessarily follow that she is not physically capable of leading the American people.
Anybody can fall ill, after all, and if noteworthy presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were able to carry serious health problems with them into the White House — polio in Roosevelt's case and chronic back pain along with, it is now alleged, a degenerative bone disease in Kennedy's — then a bout of pneumonia is surely nothing to get over-excited about. Is it?
Perhaps, but in politics perception is all, and given the 24/7 media cycle that politicians are required to negotiate nowadays, it means that footage of a candidate for the role of president and commander in chief of US armed forces collapsing may well be key in said candidate's chances of success come the election.
Does Age Matter?
On a broader note, considering that American culture has long been underpinned by the worship of youth and all things young, a striking factor of this year's race for the White House is that it is one being contested by such elderly candidates in the first place.
Not that age should be a debarment when it comes to standing for high office. Indeed the kind of wisdom that comes with age should in theory be a prize asset for any leader or candidate for president. But when we reflect that former occupants of the White House have included the likes of Ronald Reagan — a man who gave us, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles," and who while warming up prior to a speech he was about to deliver in 1984, unaware that the mic he was speaking into was switched on, said, "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes." — the rest of the world has cause for concern.
As if Reagan wasn't bad enough, former presidential candidate John McCain comes over as a graduate of the yee-ha! school of US foreign policy. Indeed the 80-year-old senator is a man whose quest for another Vietnam War never ends, whether in Ukraine or Syria or anywhere in-between. And this, we are expected to believe, is the wisdom of age and experience at work?
So, no, there is no correlation between age and suitability for high political office, whether it be on the side of youth or in support of advancing years. In the end leadership is a question of character, judgement, and nerve, which history reveals has been evident and absent in leaders both young and old.
Collapse of Serious Politics
When looked at from another angle, isn't it an indictment that Clinton is more likely to lose the race for the White House as a result of the recent footage of her collapsing rather than previous footage of her clapping and joking about the murder of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, preparatory to Libya being transformed from a functioning state into a failed state?
And isn't it also an indictment that Donald Trump may become the 45th President of the United States more by dint of his medical records than the vision for the country he has been outlining in the course of his campaign?
Overall, what we are witnessing here is the collapse of anything resembling a serious approach to politics in a country and culture imprisoned behind walls of its own mythology, distorting its regard both of itself and a world grown weary of its arrogance, bullying, hectoring, and the disrespect with which it treats those who refuse to bow to its writ.
Whoever is the next US president, we can only hope that he or she approaches the role with integrity and enough humility to appreciate that just as no human being is spared the ravages of ill health, no nation is spared the consequences of speaking without listening and acting without restraint.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.