Friday, September 16, 2016

An Unhealthy Precedent

The latest news in the election cycle was Donald Trump's appearance on Dr Mehmet Oz talk show, during which he purportedly produced his medical records for Dr Oz. This is a response to a faux scandal concerning Hillary Clinton's health. I can't remember the health of presidential candidates being an issue before- Ronald Reagan, JFK, and FDR all suffered chronic health problems... William Henry Harrison died, probably of pneumonia, shortly after his inauguration. The Constitution provides for a chain of succession should a president die in office.

The insistence on the release of medical records bugs the hell out of me... years ago, I worked in a HIPAA compliant facility. We took the privacy of individuals whose medical records were were responsible for storing seriously- every file represented a human life, and every human was owed their privacy. An insistence on publicizing medical records seems to me to weaken the privacy rights of average individuals. I'm not a big proponent of 'slippery slope' arguments, but this is one instance in which I believe there is a danger... if the medical records of Clinton and Trump are considered fair game, I fear that those of Joe and Jane Schmo will soon be as well. The real problem is that this is all in the service of a bullshit fake controversy.

I'm also bemused by Dr Oz's role in this tawdry affair... Dr Oz is, at best, a woo-slinger, at worst, a scam artist. He certainly doesn't deserve to play a role in a national election. With Donald Trump's appearance on his show, we witnessed a guy who plays a billionaire on television releasing a bogus medical report to a guy who plays a doctor on television. In an election which has degenerated into a reality television series, this is a new low- a crossover episode involving two grifters. All told, it's a tawdry affair, and it sets an unhealthy precedent- an individual's health records are not a matter for public consumption.

Now, tax returns are another matter entirely... the public has a right to know what potential conflicts of interest may effect the way a potential executive will govern. We need tax returns, not colonoscopy results... we know that Trump's head is up his ass.


bowtiejack said...

". . . we witnessed a guy who plays a billionaire on television releasing a bogus medical report to a guy who plays a doctor on television. "

Of course, as reality TV becomes more real than reality itself (all hail Trump!), shouldn't everyone have to clip their medical records to their resume? You're absolutely right about where this leads to.

Vixen Strangely said...

The Trump notion of transparency is that if you are honest about lying by winking or nodding, you're honest enough. The tax returns (I believe one of Trumplings basically did his best Jack Nicholson impression--"You can't handle the truth!") But I have a little experience in taxation confidentiality--yes, this is highly confidential information, and tax practitioners may have fiduciary duties regarding their clients, and government taxation employees have high standards regarding treatment of taxpayer information, specifically because it is reflective of any of a number of potential area of exposure.

The Donald and his Trumplings see requests for greater transparency as innately hostile, as if people are gathering information with the intent to damage, as opposed to merely an inquiry to better understand Trump's fitness as a candidate. It's possible that this dates back to his regular exposure to audits and bankruptcies. In a way, the narrative that people have with respects to the Clintons and media transparency is quite on its head--Trump is operatively nontransparent in that he doesn't think its anyone's business what he does--he'll do what he bloody well likes, and he'll make you like it, too. The Clintons control their media while generally being operatively transparent regarding things like tax returns and Foundation Donations because they want to be liked, and don't assume they can make anyone like them.

I find the latter more relatable and frankly--safer for democracy.

mikey said...

I don't care about the health status of the candidates. I wouldn't change my vote because the other guy is healthier - this is about policies and competence. But I don't see this expectation as a threat to Joe and Jane Schmoe or the HIPPA regulations. The two major party presidential nominees are in such a specific, extraordinary position that nothing that is required or expected of them can have any applicability to regular people. If we start asking for the medical records of state assembly or city council candidates I'll start worrying.

The financial information to be gleaned by tax records, on the other hand, goes directly to the corruption or corruptability of the holder of the highest office in the land, and they should have NO expectation of privacy from that kind of practical scrutiny. Trump more than any other. My personal opinion is that Trump's refusal to disclose his financial information automatically disqualifies him - he simply cannot be trusted at that point.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

If HRC can't beat a cartoon character, what does it say about her?

The DNC rigged the primary for Hillary, and if she loses it's on them.