- - Thursday, January 18, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Waiting for someone to die, whether to claim an expected inheritance, outlast a rival for the affections of a wife or mistress, or to vacate the White House, requires stamina and patience. From the day Donald Trump shocked the world and appalled the elites, the Democrats and their media allies have been searching for a deux ex machina, a miracle to get him out of the way of decent folk.

At first, it was the faint hope that the Electoral College would block his ascension; the likes of Martin Sheen, Debra Messing, and other celebrities urged duly elected electors to abandon their oaths and vote for Hillary Clinton, anyway. No such luck. Then the losers cooked up a tale that the Russians, clearly meddling, had “colluded” with Donald Trump to corrupt the 2016 election, and even if there was no fire the idea was that a special prosecutor could conjure enough smoke to enable the invocation of the 25th Amendment and persuade the vice president and the president’s cabinet to depose him in a coup d’etat. So far that hasn’t worked, either, but Robert Mueller is still conjuring smoke.

Lately, however, the sore losers have put their hopes in something else, the president’s health. On its face, that makes more sense. Donald Trump is 71 years old, making him one of the oldest presidents ever to serve. His lifestyle ought to have killed him already. He rarely exercises, the occasional round of golf aside, and is famous for gorging on fast food. If only he were a boozer or a smoker, but he indulges neither. Michael Wolff’s best-selling novel, “Fire and Fury,” paints a portrait of a president suffering from some sort of cognitive decline, and will soon be “incapacitated”— unable to carry out his presidential duties. A psychiatrist at Yale University has been making the rounds peddling this story to anyone with a camera or pencil he can persuade to listen.

There were great expectations for his annual physical, conducted last week. No such luck. “The President is in excellent health,” Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, declared. Indeed, his health, the doctor told a White House press briefing, is “above average based on age and sex. The president is currently very healthy and [is likely to] remain so for the duration of his presidency.” Like a lot of the rest of us, he’s a bit overweight, and could stand to lose 10 or 15 pounds. A little exercise wouldn’t hurt, either. A few sessions in the White House gym might do more to dissolve a few inches around the midsection than another round of golf. Tennis, anyone?

But, all told, there’s nothing to worry about (or for the legion of the president’s diehard critics, there’s apparently a lot to worry about). Given his bad habits, how can this be? “It’s called genetics,” Dr. Jackson says. “I don’t know. Some people just have great genes. I told the president that if he had had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old.”



But what about the wandering Yale psychiatrist’s diagnosis of a doddering, perhaps senile, president? The president also submitted to a cognitive exam, to measure the work of his brain, as part of his check up. He achieved a perfect score of 30 out of 30.

Dr. Jackson delivered these results to the White House reporters at a briefing this week. Their bitter disappointment was palpable. For nearly an hour they peppered him with questions speaking to their desperation.

“How much weight would you suggest the president lose?” one asked. “Can you assess the president’s mental fitness for office?” asked another. “Are you ruling out things like early onset Alzheimer’s? Are you looking at dementia-like symptoms?” Surely the doctor had at least a little good news. “Do you have a life expectancy for him based on his results?” wondered another.

Dr. Jackson parried the questions with patient ease. A doctor understands such anxiety following a physical examination, but usually there’s no appetite for bad news. Nevertheless, he could only repeat what the evidence says: The president’s health is good. Nothing else to see here. CNN’s doctor on call, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, did not examine Mr. Trump, personally or otherwise, but he had some consolation for the Democrats and the impatient press, anyway. Dr. Gupta says the president has “heart disease,” and suggested he could expect a heart attack within three to five years.

Well, no one knows the future, but if the president’s critics, rivals and enemies want him out of the White House, they’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, in the voting booth. Civilized countries do it that way.

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