Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain's medical records

I'm not usually one to use the tired mantra of "well if you have nothing to hide.." I think that people can have all sorts of legitimate reasons to not subject themselves to intrusive explorations of their personal lives. In general the onus should not be on the individual to prove why they believe their private life should remain private but rather the burden should lay with those who seek to investigate into the life of another.

In the case of Presidential candidates and their medical records though I believe the public has a compelling interest in knowing what is in their medical history. This is especially true when the candidate is elderly and has a history of serious medical issues.

Which brings us to John McCain and his campaigns bizarre behavior as they "release" his medical records today. Their behavior is so bizarre it raises real questions about what it is they are trying to hide. Steve Benen has the details.

After months of delays, a handful of carefully-selected reporters will have access this morning to 400 pages of John McCain’s medical records. By all appearances, the McCain campaign is rather panicky about what journalists might find, and have gone to almost comical lengths to make this process as ridiculous as humanly possible.

At the outset, let’s not brush too quickly past the series of delays. A year ago, reporters began asking for access to the records. At the time, the campaign said the release of the materials would come in a matter of weeks. It didn’t. Then, McCain aides said they’d release the information in March. Then, without explanation, they changed the date to April. Then, again without explanation, they changed the date to May. (I wasn’t inclined to be suspicious about this until McCain started acting suspiciously.)

Finally, the McCain campaign picked this morning — the Friday before Memorial Day weekend — to “show” the materials to a select few, none of whom will be able to even make a photocopy of a single page.

The campaign had to know that their behavior would make it appear as though they were trying to hide something and yet they chose this course anyway. Apparently the McCain campaign believes that the negative press about the process is outweighed by avoiding coverage of what may be in Senator McCain's medical files. It's bizarre behavior and raises numerous red flags

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