Friday, 23 May 2008

McCain to Release Health Records Today

John McCain will release his health records today, to a limited group of reporters late on Friday afternoon. Just before a Holiday weekend. Now, this is raising some eyebrows because typically Fridays are when politicians like to put out bad news (it gets buried in the weekend news when no one is watching televisions or reading papers, and everyone's forgotten about it by Monday).

So let me just say a few things:
  • I hope that the records will show he is healthy and fit to run. I wouldn't wish health problems on anyone, and I wouldn't want this election to become about a candidate's physical fitness - the issues at stake for the country are bigger than that, and that's what I hope we will be talking about.
  • However, John McCain is 71 years old - that's six years past the mandatory retirement age - and has had an exceptionally difficult life, including a relatively recent bout with skin cancer. Unfortunately, this does make his health an issue.
  • Having said that, assuming he is shown to be healthy and fit for the race, I don't think his age on its own should be a major factor in the race. Polling suggests that many voters do have an objection to voting for a person of that age (many more than are willing to state concerns over voting for an African American or a woman) but my suspicion is that voters concerns are based on worries over how much physical endurance such an individual would have. There's no better test for this question than putting that candidate through the hardest test drive in the world - a rigorous presidential campaign.
  • Besides, McCain's foreign policy ideas are so bad, his grasp of the basic facts so shaky (has he figured out yet whether Iran is Sunni or Shia?), and his domestic policy prescriptions so non-existent (will he ever release an education plan?) that frankly age is the least of his problems.

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