How Healthy are the Presidential Candidates?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
According to this recent article in the New York Times, all four of the major candidates for President and Vice-President in this year’s election have released much less information about their current and past health issues to the public than “normal.”

And, as you can see from glancing through the article, it looks like all of the candidates have some issues that any voter who wants to cast a well-informed vote would probably like to know a little more about.

What do you think about this? Is it reasonable for candidates to want to keep some of their personal health information confidential, or do voters have a right to know everything?

Personally, I also wonder how much the negative tone of this current campaign has influenced the candidates to limit the amount of personal information they reveal. It seems like this year’s campaign has been dominated even more than usual by character assassination, vague innuendos, and “guilt by association” tactics–often at the expense of looking at how the candidates actually differ on real issues. This seems pretty sad, considering all the real problems we have to deal with as a society.

Would you feel safe revealing personal health information or even saying what you really think about the issues, in this kind of political atmosphere, where every word you say is likely to be taken out of context, blown out of proportion, and used against you?

Maybe another question we should be asking is: “How healthy is our political climate?” And who’s responsible for all this negativity?

Whatever's going on here, I'm just glad that I've got my blood pressure problems and emotional eating under good control right now, lol. Otherwise, a lot of what passes for political debate these days would probably send both through the roof.

How do you feel about all this?

Candidate photos:

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I don't believe that they should have to disclose their medical history to the world. Next thing then we would have to disclose ours to the world. They need to have some privacy since so much negative stuff is put out there and taken out of context. If it's an illness that would affect their performance in office then by all means tell us about it. But whether you like our current president or not I believe we should all support him and stop nit-picking everything that is said or done. Let him do his job! Report
I think that it would be important to know about current major health issues, treatment can sometimes seriously affect your ability to function. I do not think that someones entire health record should be put under public scrutiny, not all health concerns would affect their ability to successfully govern. Report
Well, first of all, isn't the reason why there is even a VP candidate in the first place to provide as a backup in case something does happen to a President? I know this is on a much smaller scale, but when you apply for a job your health records aren't taken into consideration when deciding whether or not you are capable of filling that position. That is discrimination, and is governed by federal laws. So, why then, would anyone think that it would be ok to discriminate against someone running for office on the basis of an underlying health condition? I think that it is irrelevant. Secondly, just as you alluded to, the political arena can be very stressful for anyone who is associated with it. It has been proven that people who perform more stressful kinds of jobs are at a greater risk of more stress-related illnesses--heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer. I know that we expect a lot out of someone running for the potisiton of President in our country, but we can't expect them to be superhuman!! Report
I'm glad also that I'm doing something ... that I can do something about -- I'm becoming healthier everyday. Exercise, eating more healthy -- taking care of me.

I can't take care of the current financial situations around the world. I can vote and the rest is pretty much out of my control -- I'm not very stressed -- accept I'm very tired of political ads. Report
So we're saying we have a right to discriminate on the basis of disability? Where's the focus on ABILITY? It's actually none of our business what our coworkers or candidates are dealing with. That's right. None of our business. Our business is what they can do, not what likely incorrect assumptions we make about what their physical condition means. Sigh. Report
The medical condition and over all health of a canidate is imortant. If they might face known issues while in office it would make the Vice Presidential canidate all that more important. We did not know about Regan Alzheimers while he was in office, but he had a Vice President that could step in and regaurdless of my political leanings, do a good job. Report
I don't think it's necessary to know everything, but I think it would be important to know any major health issues that could get in the way of the president doing his job. Yes, I know that what matters most is where they stand on the issues, but it's not good to have someone in office whose health is going to affect them doing their job. Report
No one has the right to pock into anyones personal life I don't think anyone here wants their entire medical record posted on the internet do they? Report
I think we have a right to know about their health issues. We are hiring them. I know people who have cancer and chemo and work right through it, yes it was very rough for them but they still did it. Our president would have someone to back them up if needed.

But cancer isn't the only illness out there. What about AIDS. We would need to know if our candidate had AIDS because of the different stages. The candidate needs to be honest (where we would find an honest candidate I surely don't know), but the candidates health is our business. The president is hired by us. The president works for us. Not for himself or herself. For us and the US. All of us. We may not agree with his or her decisions in all that they do, but- they do it for us. Report
Having a President who has used Cocaine and other drugs in the past is a concern for me. Report
The Jedi Squirrels ROCK!!!

I recently heard that President Bush is considered to be one of the healthiest presidents we have ever had in the USA, but that certainly doesn't mean he has been that great of a president. And as healthy as he has been, he still came close to death, or so it seemed, when a simple piece of popcorn went down the wrong way! Anyone remember that? If Gore had actually won - not that it would have been any better, would his health have remained as good as it seemed when he campaigned? He gained a BUNCH of weight after he lost in 2000 (maybe because he lost? who knows...), and that could have changed his health. Dick Cheney has had serious heart issues throughout his 8 years as VP, and it was known up front that he had heart problems, but nothing seems to have kept him from playing his evil part in the tyrrany of the last 8 years.

Maybe we have a right to know about important health issues, maye we don't. I wouldn't trust Obama or McCain to be honest about it anyway if there was something that would make us see them as weak. That seems pretty obvious to me. They lie about so many other things. Why would we think they would be honest about this? Report
I definitely think we SHOULD be able to see their entire medical record. Yeah it could be fuel for other candidates, but if I was running for president and they saw my records they would see I have issues with depression and such. What if one of the candidates has issues like that? Wouldn't you like to know?? Report
I really don't think we need to know their medical information. I can see why it would matter, but if anyone of us were applying for a job it would not only be rude but illegal to ask for the applicant's health records. I've known very healthy people who have dropped dead without any kind of warning & very unhealthy people to live into their 90's. Yeah, I know that these are not necessarily likely situations, but they aren't unheard of. I would rather have a great President in office for a few months than a really bad one for 4 - 8 years, personally. This does not necessarily speak on which candidate I am supporting, it is just my personal thoughts. It could apply to any candidate for any office. Report
I might just be alone in this opinion, but I don't believe we need to know every detail about their health. Big stuff sure, terminal illeness of sorts, but whether or not they got mono at 15...I really don't care about. They just have to be healthy enough to run a country. They have to be mentally and physically able to carry on the weight of millions of people. Report
What's up with the Jedi Squirrels?They are adorable.
Today when you apply for a job most companies request (demand) you fill out a health questionaire and /or have a physical including drug testing,hospitalizations,psychiatri
c evaluations,and arrests/convictions.The same SHOULD apply for President of our United(?) States.And we the people should have knowledge of this information,because these candidates will be working for us. Report
My understanding is that over 1100 pages of McCain's records covering the last 8 years were made available for only 3 hours with no photocopying nor recording allowed. Just that many pages indicates some concern. There were 3 or 4 melanomas, one was invasive, lymph nodes were removed indicating a more advanced cancer and these are concerns. If a melanoma recurs, the curative treatment is such that the VP would need to take over during that time. This is a concern. Since he is running to be our leader, we need to know about his physical health and this doesn't even begin to look into emotional health....

If someone were applying to be an airline pilot we would need to know if he had seizures for example. We need to know the real possibilities of a person applying to us for a four year job to carry it out in full. Yes, a person's information is private, but when a person seeks a public influential position, of necessity, now we need to know. This applies to any presidential or vice presidential candidate. Report
The American people should have full disclosure when it comes to presidential candidates. Obama is a lifelong smoker, so a one page document just doesn't suffice. Like McCain, who has released extensive medical records, Obama should have to provide a complete physical exam, along with chest x-rays. Report
that should be alternative! Report
I don't feel we need to know everything, but certainly if it could be something that may keep them from serving their term. Knowing the atternatice, if McCain wins I pray he will be healthy thru his term, heck if he don't make it I still pray he's healthy. Now I'm praying for the health of our nation and that we can come together for the healthy survial of our good olde USA. Report
In response to someones comments...

Sure, the President is not king but the executive branch has gained more and more power in our system over time. The executive branch has the responsibility to execute the laws and rules that the legislative and judiciary branch set forth. So WHO is to make them do whats right? Your VOTE? Please... Choosing one of two candidates, yeah that will really show them that WE are boss...

Today the nice picture your H.S. government teacher painted in your mind is just not so. The government has denied rights to ANYONE they deemed a "threat" - normal people like you and me. When slurs of torture in Camps and Prisions arose from Arganistan, who did they pin it on? These entry level soldiers who were not taught the Geneva convention or any other"standards". When top level officials inspected them and saw chains on the walls, was there any inquiry? No.

Sorry, but the government we now have is not working for you and me anymore, it is their states now. Report
Well, I think that before a someone wants to run for president, he or she should be screened and pass a health exam to ensure that he or she is in very good health. However, there are somethings that aren't our business and should remain so. Report
its BIG time our business.. we are talking about the presidency of the US... these economic times have NEVER been seen before..ever!! that is the headline today!! wake up wake up.... this is a HUGE deal and we need a president that can help make it right again... Report

Second off, COLAWOMAN, you know that the bulk of those 500 pages were probably things like "injury x from time at Hanoi Hilton", so they won't mention them, cuz it'd make him a hero. Report
It is my opinion that once you decide to become a public figure and you represent the people, they have a right to know issues that may keep you from performing your duty. As a lay person I have undergone health & drug testing from companies that wanted to hire me, so they could make sure I could perform the task and so they could make sure I was't going to be a financial liability after they hired me. The only difference is I only represent that 1 company, so they are the only one privy to that info. As a public figure you represent the public and the public has the right to know the health issues of someone they want to represent them for the next 4-8 years. Especially if the next people in line to assume the office are people you wouldn't elect to that office. Report
My health records are not any of their business so why should their's be any of my business. Report
I love the squirrels!
As far as needing to know the candidates health info, I say it's none of our business unless it's detrimental to how they will perform in office. Obviously, if they have a serious illness that could prevent them from completing their term in office, then yes, we need to know. I don't want to elect someone only for them to have to be replaced. Report
Maybe an HR pro on SP could weigh in (pun intended) on what's legal in the private sector. When a company looks to hire a CEO, is it legal to require even the results of their vasectomy in order to decide on hiring them? It begs the question of "right to know." Any of us could drop dead on any given day. Unless there's a serious medical condition, I say, "Back Off." If one can stand the rigors of the campaign trail, I think that's trial enough! Report
HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) has nothing to do with the "invasion of privacy" mentioned in a previous post. It has to do specifically with ensuring only authorized (e.g. permissions are granted by the patient) personnel are reviewing the patient's medical record. If it is a matter of public record (e.g. Senator McCain's prior bouts with cancer, Governor Palin's pregnancies for which she has five children) then there is nothing in HIPAA to protect that health information. Conversely, if, hypothetically speaking, Senator Obama has a medical history of sickle-cell anemia, and he chooses not to divulge this information to his health-care practitioner for campaign purposes (I'm under the impression that he hasn't opted to provide any significan health information outside of a one page notice citing he is currently in good health), then that information will still remain private, until Senator Obama opts to make it public, personally.

With relation to the President, or Presidential candidates, being fit for service for the term of Presidency, for this purpose, we have the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which deals with the potential inability of the President to consistently and reliably perform the duties of the office. This amendment is a tack on to the Presidential Succession Laws of 1886 and 1947, to include replacements in the event that the Vice-President was also deemed unable to complete the duties of the office. If the President, or any successors, are unable or unfit to complete the elected term of office, it is incumbent upon the President's personal medical doctor to make the judgement and to pass "the football," figuratively speaking, and then there will be adequate backups. This is why it is vital that we ensure we don't just vote in the Presidential election and then let it ride. Ensure you follow political shifts in personnel, changes in structure of those personnel.

Please ensure you educate yourself regarding the candidates, their plans and be sure to vote! Report
Another thing I just wanted to mention, reading all these comments-- Don't forget that the President isn't the be-all-end-all of our government. He's not a king. Remember to pay attention to your local government.. your mayors, governors, senators, congresspeople and the people who head out to capitol hill to write, introduce and push bills through. They are the movers and shakers you have to worry about. Report
1) love the squirrels. ;D

2) In all seriousness, I don't think they should *have* to reveal everything. All of us have a right to privacy, especially medical privacy. How would you like it if you had to reveal every ache and affliction before you could accept a job? The Hippa act protects us from such invasions of privacy and if 'The president is not above the law' then he should have some protection under it too. That's what equality is all about. Report
This is not correct if you believe CNN. They did a review of McCain's medical records and reported that his campaign turned over in excess of 500 pages. Obama's campaign turned over his records - 1 page. I think if McCain's health were anywhere near bad - we would hear about it so fast it would be sickening! Remember his 90 something mother is on the campaign trail - that says something!! Report
Very controversial subject. I agree that a president should be healthy enough to serve a 4 year sentence (yeah, SENTENCE! LOL) and that some info (ie vasectomy) is not necessary to know.
Okay, presidency IS job in the public eye. Just like actresses/singers. Unfortunately we (the public) for SOME reason enjoy scrutinizing their habits - eating, drugs, sex, and now exercise? In the end, it is THEIR business, yet 'we' crave that information. Not me personally, I really do NOT care about their private life, not that the media or the general public LET them have a 'private' life.
We need to be more worries about OUR health than everyone elses health.
It all starts 'at home'. Report
Well the presidential candidants are under the microscope. This has been a rough time for all of them. They are mere men and women who want to help this nation. I don't think (my opinion) they should have to turn over their info. They would only be judged by it. I personally think that my records are just that MINE! So it is not important. We have other pressing things going on in this nation that need addressing. Report
I too like the squirrels.
I think it's important to know if the candidate has a serious health issue that could possibly affect his or her ability to lead.
I wouldn't want all my personal health history out for public viewing but that's one of the pitfulls of running for office. The candidates chose to run, knowing that would happen. Report
I really dont think that is any of our business, I just want to know about the issues and what they will do for our country. Report
Everyone knows about McCain's bout with cancer and his time as a POW. I think when Coach Dean talks about less being released, he is talking overall as we all know about McCain's health. Sarah Palin is about to release her records and her five pregnancies. Obama has a page written saying that he is in good health. Why can't we know more about him when his campaign targets the health and age of McCain? Bidden has some things released but not everything. Report
Absolutely, the voters should be aware of any potentially life-threatening illness or medical history that might force him/her to leave the presidency in the hands of their VP running mate. This election season, I am much more concerned about the reports of McCain's several recurrances of melanoma, and estimates ranging from 36-72% likelihood of his likelihood of living out even his first two years in office, thereby leaving the presidency in the hands of Palin, who's competancy is not even taken seriously by many in her own party. Report
I think it's about as relevant as what brand of socks they buy. Report
Liked the article...Liked the squirrels better. Report
When I am electing a person for these 2 important jobs, I like to know that they are healthy and able to carry the job for 4 years. Knowing that a candidate has a heart problem or other issue that would impact his/her job performance is concerning to me. These are two of the most important jobs we give out every 4 years.

Beth G Report
Nearly every employer I've had requires some form of medical exam and/or drug testing as part of the application process, especially those jobs involving the US government or state government in some way. The employer don't necessarily get to see detailed results of these exames, but they do expect to learn whether a minimum standard is met in the required categories. This doesn't have to be a burdensome or invasive process for applicants for the highest level job in the country - and I would be against any kind of disqualifying standard. Once they've received the office, every bump and bruise and blood draw will be discussed extensively, and my guess is that some element of the media will report detailed health information as long as there is an audience interested in hearing about it in any case. Report
For those of you wondering about the squirrels: the original version of this blog had a couple more sentences in it about the negative campaigning and where I think that comes from, and the battling squirrels seemed like a pretty good image for that issue. But those sentences were taken out later to keep the focus on the health issue instead of the politics, which does make the dueling squirrels connection a little less clear, lol. But since the candidates do need to be fit and healthy to do battle with the Dark Side of the Force (i.e., the other candidate), maybe it's still appropriate :) Report
I think I'm glad Nov 4th is almost here... I always hate how long the nastiness lasts heading into the election. I agree that I wouldn't want any employer asking me my medical history; something significant is a different story. Don't think I'd want a president who was currently going thru Chemo. Report
I agree that the Presidential Candidates should have as much right to privacy as any other American citizen does. Do we want to start expanding our what ifs even further. I feel we have enough to contemplate and don't ever believe the New York Times on ANYTHING without checking things out in other ways using a multitude of resources, Report
I think the presidential candidates have a right to privacy concerning their health conditions unless it's something that could affect their ability to lead. BUT, I also think they could become an advocate and model on certain illnesses too, such as being a functional, working adult who just happens to have......(fill in the blank--it could be something like diabetes, etc.).

As for the squirrels, they are a hoot! I'd rather see them in this article than to listen to the negative ads of the candidates. Report
When I apply for a job I do not want my future employer to see my medical history. Why should we expect any more from them? I understand if there is something huge like Mc Cains cancer but normal routine exams, birth record, etc... Slightly overboard. I think our country is just hungry and wants to know everything but come on people, enough is enough. This is the same issue as when there is a accident on the road. Everyone slows down to rubberneck. Mind your own business will ya? Report
Insurance companies discriminate against people on health issues all of the time. HIPPA may protect us from our neighbors knowing our business, but an infection 9 years ago can help deny you hospital treatment. As far as a politician issue, they'll have the best doctors in the nation at their side, so if there was something horribly wrong (which I hope is not the case) they'd be well taken care of...

...and on the topic of the squirrels, was this some experiment to see how many people would comment on some non-sequitor element on the computer screen? Report
I was thinking about this yesterday because of a news story. I think that if citizens are protected by HIPPA laws, then it is fair that they protect candidates. It is really not my business to know their medical history. To be frank, that is why we have a line of succession from President to VP to Speaker of the House and so on. I don't think I want to get into the business of seeing candidates medical histories...won't be long before someone wants to look at mine when I look for a job. It is a slippery slope to loss of privacy. Report
I really only clicked to read this blog because I was curious as to how the squirrel picture tied in. What the...??? Report
That makes no sense at all. Just because Reagan was found to have Alzheimer's post-presidency, that does not mean that anyone else does, will, or ever will. Apples/Oranges. His condition was discovered after he left the White House and shouldn't be used as a basis for the health discovery of other potential presidents.

That's like saying my company shouldn't hire me because other women my age have had breast cancer. Ridiculous. Report
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