- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2001

At the risk of sounding controversial let me deposit on the public record a thought: bad health can be good for you.

In fact, after familiarizing myself with the work of two distinguished medical experts I would go so far as to say bad health and even serious disease have been instrumental in the creation of many priceless works of art.

What is more, many of the greatest statesmen of modern times have been burdened with maladies, some too horrible to mention. Conversely, most of the mediocre and childish art of the late 20th century is attributable to the excellent health of our artists, most of whom have fine teeth and creamy complexions.

As for the politicians, if they jogged less and coughed more the political condition of the world would be nearing that state of perfection that the editorialists of the New York Times seem to envisage when they write, for instance, about campaign finance and the abolition of tobacco.

Stop harrumphing and allow me to explain. According to The Washington Post, which reported on the problem earlier this week, the French impressionist Claude Monet suffered from cataracts. They gave him red-yellow vision. In time, he lost the ability to distinguish the colors on his palette. The happy consequence was swirling reds and yellows, smoky blues and grays that have enraptured millions of people and made the old blinker famous. William Pitt the Elder had gout, really ghastly gout. His contributions to British statecraft were momentous and had he had his way (in other words, were he a bit sicker) he could have wrought marvels for our 13 Colonies. Ben Franklin, too, suffered gout.

Think of the marvelous achievements of old Ben. Owing to his painful pedals, he often removed his shoes at public gatherings and, we are told, probably was in his stocking feet when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Had his feet not been throbbing with gout, he might have worn shoes and made off to the mother country as a proud Tory. What a loss to our Republic. Dr. Franklin would have been flying kites in London when the first shots were fired at Concord and Lexington. During L' Affaire Monica, that would have left President (former President) Clinton one less lecherous American hero to refer to in his They-All-Did-It defense.

All this unusual health information comes to us from the researches of a California pathologist, Paul Wolf. And there are other men of science whose work convinces me America would be better off with no improvement in our health-care system whatsoever. In fact, we might be better off if more doctors became stockbrokers and vitamins were prohibited. Dr. Mitchell Margolis, a pulmonary physician from Pennsylvania, has discovered that the composer Johannes Brahms suffered a chronic sleep disorder that left him frazzled and irritable during the day. Consider this the next time you listen to Brahms' "Lullaby."

For years now researchers have been breaking the news of the many maladies suffered by such giants as Beethoven, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and even the suave John F. Kennedy. The link between illness and greatness has been a hidden truth known by any thoughtful people who gave the subject a moment's notice. Some have even coyly suggested their own suffering to advance themselves up the scrolls of history. Remember when President Jimmy Carter lamented his hemorrhoids and when Lyndon B. Johnson made the press' blood cool by revealing his gall bladder scar?

Of course, there are a few exceptions to my argument that great artists and statesmen have been assisted by bad health and disease. The recently departed White House plunderer has dreadful allergies. In other forums, I have argued that owing to his reckless lust his plumbing has been in disrepair note the seal upon his medical records. His repute as a statesman sinks daily. Sure, Sidney Blumenthal and James Carville continue to accord him the rank of saint and martyr, but even George Stephanopoulos, Dee Dee Myers, and Paul Begala have publicly attested to his roguishness. There are others who have failed to be ennobled by bad health. Andy Warhol created sophomoric stuff despite a string of discomforts that would have impressed Vincent van Gogh, himself the beneficiary of too many disorders to mention. Benito Mussolini had terrible stomach problems and probably as many allergies as Billl Clinton.

Now, of course, the media are catching on to Mr. Clinton's baseness. Just the other day the revered New York Times revealed some of the corruption surrounding his pardons. The Justice Department had no idea the White House was preparing its corrupt list, "But many felons with Washington connections did," the Times asserts. "Beginning last fall, the notion began to circulate among potential applicants that the White House might be receptive to direct proposals for pardons." Well, I have been trying to get the Times' attention for years about the corrupt labor leaders, arms merchants, and common swindlers who have been around the Clintons since Arkansas days. All I ever got for my troubles was the title "Clinton critic." I do not mind being ignored about my Clinton revelations. I just hope the media will take more seriously my insight that bad health is good for you.

R. Emmett Tyrrell is editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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