Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lingering Questions About McCain's Mental and Physical Health

John McCain will turn 72 on Friday. If [God forbid] he is elected, he will be the oldest man ever to be sworn in as president. Chills run down my spine not only because of his policies but because of his mental and physical health. Does the Constitution provide for his removal due to mental incompetence? And who would decide that?

For five years McCain was tortured in a prison camp in North Vietnam as we all know from listening to every answer to a tough question. Humor aside, the American people ought to know the state of his mental health. Has he ever been treated for PTSD? Tens of thousands of current Iraqi Veterans suffer from PTSD, many not receiving any counseling for the malady. What subconscious issues remain unsolved in the psyche of John McCain due to his imprisonment and torture? Is that part of his much-noted 'bad temper' that erupts viciously from time to time?

Do we need to worry about this? I think so, especially as he could be Commander and Chief of the most powerful Armed Forces ever assembled on the face of the earth. Look, for example, at his hot-headed response to the Russian incursion into Georgia a few weeks ago. Were he CIC, would he have sent our military assets on a mission there against the Russians? It cannot be ruled out. McCain, sadly, sees military force as a means of 'solving' geopolitical dust-ups. Yet who can blame him? As a prisoner of war for all of those years, he surely has unresolved anger and aggressive issues that display themselves in macho bellicosity. Is that the kind of man we want controlling our nuclear arsenal?

As we read recently, the so-called 'iron lady' of England, Margaret Thatcher, is suffering from dementia; naturally that recalls how President Reagan struggled with words and facts at the end of his term, his Alzheimer's fully effecting his ability to govern. As my friends and I approach 70 we too notice that our minds are not as sharp as they once were. One must wonder if his years in solitary confinement as a POW has sped up the normal aging of the brain in a 72-year-old.

His physical health is an added worry due to family history and his various skin melanomas. Although they are reportedly now under control, there is no guarantee that these will not return with vengeance. Another worry is his heart. Because doctors pay close attention to family history when advising their patients, it is important to note that both his father and grandfather died of a sudden heart attack before the age of 70.

Clearly the mental and physical health of John McCain send up double red flags as he attempts to sit in the Oval Office- one of the most stressful and important jobs in the world. That risk combined with his pro-war, aggressive foreign policy agenda, ought to send a chill down the spine of every person thinking of voting for him in November.

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