A Bit Concerning

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

This article in the Post suggests that John Fetterman’s heart issues are considerably more serious than the initial reports suggested. His stroke was the result of a fairly significant cardiac issue — an underlying cardiomyopathy — that he just ignored or largely ignored for five years.

For all but Presidents and Vice Presidents I think we tend to obsess too much about candidates’ health in political coverage. If a member of Congress gets sick or dies it’s a tragedy for their family and it may be a great political loss. But it’s not like it’s any sort of political crisis for the government. Given the outsized role of the person of the President in our political system, they’re in a different category. But no one is a President except the President (and … well, kind of the Vice President). Senators aren’t Presidents. As long as a candidate is likely to be able to serve the term they’re running for, I think it’s largely a non-issue.

Reading the piece it seems like if Fetterman attends to his condition he should have no problem serving a Senate term and likely multiple Senate terms. I also doubt that voters will hold it against him that he didn’t mention this health issue or that he didn’t attend to it in a responsible way. If anything, for many people, that probably makes him seem more relatable.

The concern I had on reading the article was how quickly he’d be able to return to a robust campaign schedule. This passage caught my attention.

His physical well-being has improved since the stroke.

“He is walking a few miles daily,” Katz said.

He has, however, still not appeared in public, and his appearances on video released by the campaign have shown him speaking only a few sentences at a time. His ability to have conversations rapidly has not fully recovered, though he is improving and doctors still predict a full recovery.

That sounds a little concerning to me. Not because it doesn’t sound like he’s on the road to recovery or that these can’t be understandable and manageable short-term effects but rather because you can’t really wait very long to get back to intensive campaigning.

I felt and still feel that this is the most likely Democratic pick up this cycle. But no race this cycle is going to be easy. So let’s hope he’s back at it in robust fashion very soon.

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