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Hillary Clinton’s Not Sick — Our Sexist Media Is

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to attend a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, on the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. (Andrew Harnik/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to attend a ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, on the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia! Omigod!!! A 68-year-old woman who’s been racing around the country for months shaking a million hands has contracted a minor illness! She must be unfit to serve as president! She must be hiding something!

Let’s cover this “story” like it’s a bigger deal than a major policy speech, shall we? Let’s run disgusting insinuating stories suggesting that Clinton’s sickness is a metaphor for the her campaign’s weakness!

Let’s show her stumbling over and over and over again. Not because there’s some sick part of us that takes pleasure in seeing a powerful woman stumble. But because, you know, it’s news people.

Let’s pretend that Clinton’s minor illness is more disqualifying than her opponent crowing about how Mexicans are rapists and how we’re going to ban all Muslims from entering the country and how women are pigs and how our sitting president wasn’t born in the United States.

Let’s pretend that Clinton’s minor illness is more disqualifying than her opponent crowing about how Mexicans are rapists...

Heck, let’s watch a videotape of Donald Trump mocking a man who has a disability. Then let’s decide, collectively, that Trump is just the right guy to decide what sort of criteria we should use to judge a candidate’s fitness for office.

Doesn’t that sound like a terrific use of our free press?

Heck, while we’re at it, why don’t we agree that Franklin Delano Roosevelt should never have been elected president once, let alone four times. Why? Because — omigod! -- polio! He was paralyzed from the waist down! The guy couldn’t even swing a golf club. What a loser.

Or what about Abraham Lincoln? Sure, he freed the slaves, a policy that most Trump supporters actually endorse. But let’s be honest. He also battled depression throughout his life. He was mentally weak! Another loser.

So good on you, American media, for once again proving that you have the moral discernment to recognize what truly matters in a leader.

It’s not about whether a candidate tells the truth, or has a clearly articulated and rational plan to address climate change or job creation or income inequality or any of the other serious issues that you’ve more or less ignored for the entirety of this campaign.

Thank you so much, in fact, for not writing about that wonky stuff that might actually enhance or save people’s lives. It’s so boring. It’s for losers like FDR and Lincoln and Clinton.

Thanks, instead, for once again taking your cues from Donald Trump, and his white nationalist conspiracy squad.

Thanks for sticking by your misogynist guns here, and continuing to reward Trump for behaving like an adolescent bully with serious inadequacy issues.

Thanks for letting him lie and bluff and filibuster his way through interviews and debates. Thanks for never asking him to explain what all his vague boasting means, or to defend his most despicable remarks.

Thanks for affirming what we’ve suspected all along, which is that you’ll play ball with a bigoted bully, so long as he gives you ratings.

And thanks for focusing obsessively on the female candidate’s alleged poor judgment, and for assuming the worst about her even when there’s no solid evidence she did anything wrong.

We’re not electing a heart or a mind or a soul or a conscience -- or even a body. We’re electing a wounded male ego.

Thanks for harping on her tone and manner, and for letting the male candidate basically skate on his illegal scams and bribes and unproduced tax returns. Thanks for proving that the patriarchy’s double standard still rules America’s newsroom.

Most of all, thanks for allowing Trump to define what “fitness” means in 2016, that it’s not about content of character or knowing the issues or having a plan or listening or caring. It’s about answering that time-honored question: quien es mas macho? Who can incite the most fear and rile up the biggest crowd and attract the most eyeballs and hit a golf ball the most yards?

(Hint: it’s always going to be a man!)

Thanks for helping American voters keep things in perspective. In the end, you’re helping to ensure that we don’t go to the polls confused about who we’re electing.

No, you’re making it more and more obvious every day. We’re not electing a heart or a mind or a soul or a conscience — or even a body. We’re electing a wounded male ego.

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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