Fetterman – There are strokes … and there are strokes
A lot is being made of the stroke that Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate John Fetterman suffered.
In addressing strokes, I can speak with some authority – having suffered a minor stroke a couple of years ago. That fact makes me wonder why Fetterman is not being more transparent with the public. It is obviously a more serious situation than he is telling voters. Two facts lead me to that conclusion — his length of hospitalization and home confinement — and his residual debilities.
By comparison, my stroke really was minor. A awoke one day with an unusual numbness in my left arm. I immediately knew it was a stroke. I called my daughter to drive me to the hospital even though I felt capable of driving – just was not sure if it would progress.
I had no cognitive issues (sorry to disappoint my critics), no motor issues, no speech issues – and even the numbness was strange. My left arm felt numb, but the skin sensitivity was normal to the touch.
Within less than 24 hours, I was released with no follow-up or therapy required. Back to my normal activities immediately – including tennis, bowling and jumping out of an airplane … oh, and writing and giving speeches. It was truly a “minor stroke.”
Fetterman and his people have been using that term to describe his condition, but the results say otherwise.
The issue for Fetterman is whether he can fully perform the activities of a United States senator. For the most part, it appears he can. He gets around (but with a noticeable limp) and gives speeches. He occasionally stumbles over words – but so does President Biden. Hmmmm?
But he apparently has a serious problem comprehending spoken words. He needs Closed Captions when being asked questions. His campaign requested the use of the technology for the one debate – having cancelled an earlier debate.
He used them during a recent interview with Dasha Burns of NBC. When that was reported as part of the interview — and Burns later said that Fetterman struggled at times – SHE was pounced upon by her partisan colleagues of the Fourth Estate. Burns apparently forgot that the new role of journalism was to conceal rather than reveal.
As a further defensive move, the Fetterman campaign insisted that the only debate be scheduled within days of Election Day – at a time when more than half the voters may have already cast early ballots. That does not suggest confidence in Fetterman’s ability to perform ad hoc.
Getting around and being able to speak is just half of a senator’s job – and the smaller half. A senator must comprehend the spoken words of others – on the floor, in committee meetings, private meetings, public forums, and among constituents.
One of the effects of a stroke can be making words sound garbled – almost like a foreign language. Is that Fetterman’s problem? We do not know because he will not release his medical records or allow his doctors to speak to reporters. That raises legitimate suspicions.
Fetterman defenders point to senators in wheelchairs, with hearing aids, or who have had strokes. None of that is relevant to Fetterman’s case. None of them have a comprehension issue. A senator with hearing loss can wear hearing aids. Fetterman’s problem is unique. It has to do with comprehension of verbal language – he will not have access to Close Captions except in rare situations.
Not being transparent will have some negative impact on the Fetterman campaign, but he and his aides have decided that revealing his medical records would be more damaging – and that is what should concern the voters of Pennsylvania.
So, there ‘tis.