This is a delicate topic. But I think it's worth asking.
If you look in today's Reliable Source column in the Washington Post, the final item is identified as a verbatim press release ...
On Nov. 21, Vice President Dick Cheney (along with approximately six Secret Service agents) visited the Johnston & Murphy retail store at Tyson's Corner Shopping Center in McLean. Cheney has been a longtime Johnston & Murphy customer, but recently found it necessary to make a personal visit to the store because his shoe size changed to a size 10EEE. Cheney selected the Lasalle wingtip loafer in brushed mahogany. He also bought a pair of shoe trees to keep his 10EEEs in top shape. Bob Ciuffoletti, store manager, has helped Cheney with his footwear needs in the past. . . . 'It was such a pleasure to see him again and help him select a pair of shoes that fit,' said Ciuffoletti.
The item does not identify <$Ad$>who the press release is from. But it turns out that it came from the shoe store chain, not
the White House.
But why is the Vice President's shoe size getting bigger? Of course, it doesn't explicitly say they've gotten bigger only that his feet have changed sizes. And 10EEE is a rather large size.
Here's why I say this. Swollen feet is a symptom
of congestive heart failure, particularly when the enlargement is in both feet (thus signalling a systemic cause.) It is by no means the only thing it can mean. Ankle and foot swelling can also be caused by fluid build-up due to renal insufficiency, among other causes. And, of course, even later in life one's shoe size can simply change for entirely benign reasons.
But Cheney's history of severe heart disease at least points to the possibility of a heart-related cause.
If you look around on the web you'll find many descriptions of foot and ankle swelling as a possible symptom of congestive heart failure. And this afternoon I spoke to a physician to whom I described an unnamed man in his mid-60s with a history of heart disease and newly-enlarged feet. Congestive heart failure was the first possibility he suggested, particularly if the enlargement was in both feet.
Now, diagnosis by press release is a rather inexact form of medicine. And this doctor made clear that he simply lacked enough information to make even a tentative diagnosis, let alone his not being able to examine the patient. I should also make explicitly clear that I know nothing else about Cheney's health beyond what is already publicly known. Perhaps the shoe chain PR folks are just wrong that the size of the Vice President's feet has changed. Or perhaps they have changed, but they've shrunken. But given the Vice President's medical history and his position in the line of succession to the presidency, it seems like a question worth asking.