But when does a political ad go too far? Of course, this is the ad I'm talking about. The ad raising questions about John McCain's health.
If McCain was a happier warrior, maybe this wouldn't even be an issue. But he's not, so it is. Much of it stems from the "grumpy old man factor," which was on display at the debate on Friday. When you trump crankiness with cancer, it raises the doubt quotient even higher. But when you think of a "President Sarah Palin," the importance of McCain's health tilts off the chart.
One can only wonder what ads might have been run against F.D.R.
As for John F. Kennedy, the drug list alone scrolling on the TV screen would have scared voters to death. As Robert Dallek reported in his amazing book, An Unfinished Life, which was one of the sources for my one woman show Weeping for J.F.K. (performed in L.A. in '05). What the public didn't know about Kennedy's health would fill medical journals. A portion from my show is below, research verified through Dallek's book, among dozens of other sources:
He had his women, his doctors and all the drugs that kept him alive:
• Anesthetic procaine, for his Addison's disease
• Cytomel, for thyroid deficiency
• Metamucil, now there's a commercial for you
• Trasentine, to control his colitic diarrhea
• Testosterone, to increase his energy and boost his weight after bouts of colitis
• Penicillin, for urinary tract flare ups
• Fluorinef, to increase his salt absorption due to Addison's
• Tuinal, for insomnia - a side effect of the cortisone
• Antihistamines, for an array of allergies
• Steroids... Oh, and Vitamin C and calcium.
J.F.K. also had lots of doctors who gave him his "vigah." They also led to rumors that Nixon tried to steal his medical records.
He had an allergist; an endocrinologist for his Addison's disease; a gastroenterologist for his colitis; a urologist, because he'd gotten a urinary tract infection from venereal disease; an orthopedist for his degenerative spine, but no one knew.
Today we'd know all about "Dr. Feelgood."
GOP fundamentalists would go wild.
Or maybe he'd get a pass just like Rush.
I'm not squeamish about making John McCain's age an issue, as long as it's done directly. The presidency is the highest stress job on the planet, with McCain already revealing he's got the grumpy grandpa factor, which has been hinted about for years from Senate colleagues. So a president taking office at 72 should pass the fitness test, much more so than a John F. Kennedy or an F.D.R. We shouldn't apologize for demanding it either.
But what about the health test? The ad above has been rejected by TV outlets that are refusing to air it, even though it offers expert medical testimony. No one wants to raise these issue against John McCain, which is a lot like what people felt about F.D.R. and J.F.K. People want to protect our heroes. That's natural, but is it in the best interest of this country? Actually, in the light of our history, it's been proven that our presidents have withstood tremendous health challenges to do great things. However, the other men were much younger than John McCain, which he should have no problem acknowledging. It's not ageism to demand McCain pass the age and health test, which his years and melanoma raise.
It's also important to note that Barack Obama and his team have absolutely nothing to do with this ad, which comes from outside, independent groups.
What do you think about the ad above, the subjects of age and health, and whether it's fair game to ask these questions of John McCain? The ad is running in some battleground states.
When I think of "President Sarah Palin," as tough as the ad is, I understand why. Can we afford not to talk about it?
Follow Taylor Marsh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/taylormarsh