What has happened to WaPo? Is it starting to act like a real newspaper? The editorial board of the Washington Post calls for John Fetterman to agree to debate Dr. Oz not once but twice before the November midterm election. It also calls for the release of his medical records “for independent review”.
Don’t get carried away now, but maybe we should acknowledge when it does something right. In this case, it is the right move. The WaPo’s editors are correct to say that Pennsylvania voters are entitled to see both candidates on a stage and watch their performances. And, since Fetterman wants to be a senator, a six-year term, voters deserve to know that he will be up to doing that job for the duration.
No one can absolutely guarantee that they will be able to serve a full term in office without unexpected health issues. Stuff happens. We don’t have crystal balls to help us look into the future. But in Fetterman’s case, voters could be able to glean from his medical records if his doctors give him a reasonable chance of fulfilling his term. The point is that there has to be transparency when a candidate runs for office. He shouldn’t be allowed to hide on the issue of his health. WaPo rightly points out that Fetterman already has shown a willingness to gloss over real concerns and his medical history which led up to his stroke.
Since returning to the campaign trail, Mr. Fetterman has been halting in his performances. He stammers, appears confused and keeps his remarks short. He has held no news conferences. Mr. Fetterman acknowledges his difficulties with auditory processing, which make it hard for him to respond quickly to what he’s hearing. He receives speech therapy — and we wish him a speedy, full recovery — but the lingering, unanswered questions about his health, underscored by his hesitation to debate, are unsettling.
The Fetterman campaign squandered credibility by concealing from the public for two days after his stroke that he had been hospitalized. It waited weeks longer to reveal a more complete picture of his medical history, including that he had been diagnosed in 2017 with cardiomyopathy. Mr. Fetterman had a pacemaker with a defibrillator implanted after the stroke. The campaign’s response to questions about Mr. Fetterman’s health is to point to a doctor’s note, released more than 14 weeks ago, which said “he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem” if he takes his medications and exercises.
That’s not good enough. Mr. Fetterman is asking voters for a six-year contract without giving them enough information to make sound judgments about whether he’s up for such a demanding job. We have called for full disclosure of health records from candidates for federal office in both parties, including Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and we believe Mr. Fetterman should release his medical records for independent review.
That’s not being mean to someone who has suffered a stroke, that is just being honest about what anyone can see and hear. Fetterman even looks frustrated with himself when he tries to speak in complete sentences and has to stop and search for a word. The Senate is a debating body and being able to express himself and articulate a political position will be a requirement for the job. It is not too much to ask to be able to see his medical records.
Dr. Oz has asked for five debates. Fetterman refused to agree on any debates, much less five, until last week. He agreed to one in the middle to end of October. The problem with that timing is that mail-in voting begins September 19. Also, it is standard for Senate contests in Pennsylvania to hold three debates during the campaigns. Again, it’s not fair to voters who want to see the candidates side by side and listen to their views before casting a vote.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a brief moment when WaPo actually held a Democrat candidate accountable. This race may be tightening as November approaches. Currently, RCP has Fetterman up 6.5%. Pollsters haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in past voting cycles so take that with a grain of salt.