American Opinion: It's time for Sanders and the rest of the candidates to release medical records
During an interview on Feb. 9 on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chuck Todd played a clip of the presidential hopeful last September, before his heart attack, promising to release his medical records before "the first votes are cast" in the Democratic primaries. "The American people have the right to know whether the person they're going to be voting for for president is healthy," Sanders said at the time. "And we will certainly release our medical records before the primaries."
Votes have now been cast in two states and Sanders has emerged as a leading contender, but his promise to be transparent about his health remains unmet. Judging by his comments to Todd, he has no intention to honor the promise. "You can start releasing medical records and it never ends," he said as he argued that three letters from his doctors that he has released are sufficient. "We have released as much documentation, I think, as any other candidate."
Actually, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has provided a bit more information in the way of a letter from her physician and five pages of supporting medical data. Moreover, Sanders is the only candidate to have suffered a recent heart attack. At 78, he would be the oldest president if elected. Questions about his health are going to persist no matter how dismissive he is, or how many campaign events he attends in a day, or how many times he says he feels great. The best way to deal with the matter is with "full disclosure," words Sanders used after his heart attack when he promised CNN's Sanjay Gupta to make "all of our medical records public for you or anybody else who wants to see them."
Sanders has cultivated a reputation as a straight shooter, which makes his backtracking on this issue all the more hypocritical. Politico's John Harris likened Sanders' evasion to how President Donald Trump generally treats the media. Does Sanders really want to follow the example of Trump, who released a ludicrous letter from his physician during the 2016 campaign and has yet to adequately explain the circumstances of an unplanned visit to Walter Reed hospital last November?
By allowing access to his medical records, Sanders would demonstrate he has nothing to hide, and he also would set a standard that every candidate, of any age, should meet. Physician summary letters are insufficient. Anyone seeking to be president should understand that their right to privacy is outweighed by the public's need to know whether there are health issues that could affect their job performance. It is time, before any more votes are cast, for Sanders to keep his promise — and for all the candidates, including Trump, to share their medical records.