Health in politics

Will McCain die of cancer in the next 10 years? Just how much did Obama smoke? Not only do some people apparently think that these are legitimate questions to be raised and discussed in public; candidates are to be criticized for less than full disclosure of their medical records. Are you serious? Should candidates really be chosen for their cholesterol levels?

But isn’t there a legitimate worry? What if the president gets seriously ill? Or dies? Well, that what vice-presidents are for. No, this public concern for the candidates’ health is much more expression of the kind of fetish health has become than expression of a legitimate worry.

But healthy doesn’t mean invincible. Just the other day, ever healthy and youthful seeming Jörg Haider of Austria killed himself in car crash, drunk and speeding, but still unexpectedly. But at least in his case we now know for sure he’s dead, which is more than can be said for another “beloved leader”, Kim Jong Il. He has disappeared from the public sphere (insofar as this is possible in the absence of a public sphere), but speculations about his death are denied.

How is Fidel Castro doing these days?

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One Response to “Health in politics”

  1. Richard Says:

    But isn’t there a legitimate worry? What if the president gets seriously ill? Or dies? Well, that what vice-presidents are for.

    That seems a rather flippant answer. What if voters have vastly differing views of the candidate and their running mate? Suppose one preferred McCain to Obama, but thought Palin was worst of all. Wouldn’t it then be relevant to learn how likely McCain is to fall ill or die in office? This information could legitimately influence one’s vote. Indeed, *without* this information my hypothetical voter would be unable to express an informed preference about the competing tickets. It’s not necessarily a “fetish” to think this matters.

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