Hillary's dishonesty is much more damaging than a pneumonia diagnosis

Here’s what happens when you lie all the time: people stop believing anything you say. That is the problem today for Hillary Clinton. Her staff says she has pneumonia. Maybe. Some are doubtful. After all, hours before that announcement, her campaign told us that her sudden exit from an important event was because she was “overheated.” That apparently was a lie. Or was the pneumonia report a lie? Who knows?

There’s a reason that, according to a recent NBC poll, only 11 percent of Americans think Hillary is “trustworthy and honest.” Decades of not telling the truth – about big items like Bill’s infidelity or how a video caused the death of four Americans in Benghazi and small items like coming under sniper fire in Bosnia – have piled up around Hillary Clinton like the scales around an armadillo. The lies are thick and impenetrable; it is hard to know where one starts and another begins.

After Hillary nearly collapsed at the 9/11 remembrance Sunday in downtown Manhattan, her doctor released a statement saying that Mrs. Clinton has been suffering from a cough related to allergies; in a check-up on that condition Friday the former first lady was found to have contracted pneumonia. Her doctor had prescribed antibiotics and advised a less arduous schedule.

The skepticism that greeted this explanation was profound, as revealed on social media. Some speculated that it was a body double of Hillary that emerged from Chelsea Clinton’s apartment and waved at the press. Some are even hinting that she actually has Parkinson’s disease, and that the pneumonia is related; some thought she’d had a seizure on Sunday. What we DO know is that the campaign has been less than truthful.

There are some unanswered questions. If her doctor advised rest, why did the candidate not dial back some of her appearances? Also of interest – what type of pneumonia does she have? Many who have been in close proximity for Mrs. Clinton wondered if she might have the kind that is communicable; that information was not available.

The initial reports that she had “overheated” were not credible, as temperatures in the city were a comfortable high 70s; it was clear that something else was going on.

No reporters were allowed to accompany the candidate after she departed the former World Trade Center site and no information was released as to her whereabouts; for an hour this extraordinarily public person was entirely off the grid. When she showed up, more than two hours later, emerging from her daughter’s apartment, she waved to reporters but refused to take questions about the episode before getting into her car and purportedly heading to her Chappaqua home.

For weeks the Clinton camp warned that they would not tolerate media questions about the former first lady’s coughing fits and apparent unsteadiness. 

After reporting on a recent coughing episode, NBC’s Andrew Rafferty was chastised by Hillary spokesman Nick Merrill, who posted on Twitter that the writer should “get a life.” Others in the Clinton camp piled on, delivering a clear message: Hillary’s health is off limits.

Mrs. Clinton, they assured us, was fit as a fiddle.  Yesterday’s medical emergency demolished that smokescreen. Her disappearance, the lack of communications and initial stonewalling were classic Clinton behavior. Yes, there is a problem, but it is the secrecy and paranoia that gets Clinton into trouble.

A clearly irate Chris Cillizza, writing in the Washington Post, issued a mea culpa about his recent dismissal of the health rumors under the heading “Hillary Clinton’s Health Just Became a Real Issue in the Presidential Campaign.” Like others, he had accepted the assurances of Clinton’s doctors that she was fully recovered from her fainting fit in 2012, when she sustained a concussion and was later discovered to have a blood clot. Like others, he believed the campaign when they laughed off the former first lady’s cough, apparent stumbles and other signs of distress.

No one is laughing now. Far from being the product of an over-active right-wing imagination, Hillary’s health issues are verified by the footage showing her unable to walk and being virtually lifted into her car by bodyguards.

More than her actions, more than the email scandal or the seeming pay-to-play with the Clinton Foundation, it is Hillary’s inability to tell the truth that is hurting her. Yes, she has experience on her side, but more and more Americans have concluded that Hillary can’t be trusted.

Her favorability ratings have slid steadily downward, actually falling below Trump’s, according to a New York Times poll conducted in mid-July. She has only herself to blame. Her lies about how using a personal server was more convenient (it wasn’t), how she didn’t send classified information (she did), how she turned over all work-related material to the FBI (she didn’t), how she cooperated with the authorities (she did not) – all have torched the enthusiasm for her candidacy. Her dogged pursuit of the presidency has become a joyless trek among the minefields of her own making.

And now there is another. She should immediately come clean about what her health problems are, open up her health records and go on TV to talk about how grueling the race can be. Many would sympathize; she could do herself some good.

Instead, she will likely fall back on age-old Clinton feints and dodges, daring us to find out the truth. All of which will remind us that “not guilty” is not the same as innocent – and especially where the Clintons are concerned.