Can the Bernie Sanders campaign recover from the cardiac event that nobody is calling a heart attack?
The contest for the Democrats' presidential nomination has been dealt a wild card. We all wish Bernie Sanders a speedy and complete recovery from the surgery that inserted stents to relieve a blocked coronary artery. But we are in a curious situation where expressions of concern and sympathy also have the potential to sabotage his political quest.
The media scrupulously avoid calling the chest pains that he experienced a "heart attack," and of course his medical information is private, so there is no way for outsiders to gauge the extent of the severity of the incident. Officially, he experienced "some chest discomfort," which leaves plenty of wiggle room around the severity of the cornary event.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.
The New York Times notes that there are...
... at least 600,000 such procedures a year, and perhaps up to one million. It is usually uncomplicated, and patients return home within a day or two.
"The prognosis is very good," said Dr. Steven Nissen, chief academic officer of the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. "Most patients are home the next day and back to work very quickly." He said he did not see it as an impediment to returning to the campaign trail.
Still, it is unclear when Mr. Sanders will return to the campaign trail or whether he will be able to participate in the next Democratic debate, on Oct. 15 in Columbus, Ohio.
So far, there is no indication of when Sanders will return to the rigors of campaigning, or even when he will leave the hospital. But if he misses the October 15 debate, it is hard to see how he will be able to maintain his support, even as expressions of sympathy and prayers crescendo. Campaigning nationally is an extraordinarily demanding line of work for someone in his younger years, so the prospect of a 78-year-old man undergoing such stress creates genuine concern for his medical welfare. Nobody wants to see an old man killed by pushing himself too hard.
This creates a Catch-22 for Sanders. One the one hand, a prolonged absence from the campaign trail will see his supporters drifting away, many to Elizabeth Warren, who will likely surge against scandal-ridden Joe Biden. But a too hasty return to campaigning would not only put stress on his health, but likely reveal that he is slower and weaker than before. It would be hard to convince voters that he is up to the stresses of four or eight years as the president.
Clearly, Elizabeth Warren stands the best chance of picking up Sanders-supporters who worry about his health and vigor, and with Biden mired in scandal, she may well become the frontrunner. This places the Democrats in the position of nominating someone who wants to extend welfare benefits and free health care to anyone who sneaks into this country, and whom Wall Street donors — a mainstay of Democrat fundraising — regard as anathema.
Moreover, I cannot see black voters, who account for a quarter of Democrat voters and whose very high levels of turnout are regarded as essential to carrying a number of important states, getting too excited by a skinny old white woman who fraudulently claimed minority status in order to benefit from affirmative action racial preferences. Alienating African-Americans is suicide for a Democrat presidential candidate. In the face of President Trump's success in raising wages and driving black unemployment to its lowest level in recorded history, having Warren head the ticket would risk losing the stranglehold on the black vote that has formed an essential component of electoral success for the donkeys.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is out there doing TV interviews, slimmed down and no longer wearing tent dresses, and looking ready for action. My wild guess is that she will enter the race. Stand by. This is going to get very interesting. She has more baggage than a skycap could possibly handle, but will Democrats call her out on it?
Corrections: "cardiac artery correcteed to "coronary artery." Deleted reference to surgery as coronary stents are done by vatheter.