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Posted by on Oct 6, 2008 in Economy, Health | 0 comments

Does John McCain Suffer from the “S” Syndrome?”

Do you repeatedly confuse words that begin with S? Such as, for example, do you say salt instead of sugar, or—to your wife, or husband—sweaty instead of sweetie? If so, you may be afflicted by the very same ailment that McCain may be suffering from.

In his Sunday New York Times column, “Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain,” Frank Rich is quite concerned about McCain’s physical and mental health.

He writes:

The second bit of predebate news, percolating under the radar, involved the still-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. Back in May, you will recall, the McCain campaign allowed a select group of 20 reporters to spend a mere three hours examining (but not photocopying) 1,173 pages of the candidate’s health records on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Conspicuously uninvited was Lawrence Altman, a doctor who covers medicine for The New York Times. Altman instead canvassed melanoma experts to evaluate the sketchy data that did emerge. They found the information too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis.

There was, however, at least one doctor-journalist among those 20 reporters in May, the CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta. At the time, Gupta told Katie Couric on CBS that the medical records were “pretty comprehensive” and wrote on his CNN blog that he was “pretty convinced there was no ‘smoking gun’ about the senator’s health.” (Physical health, that is; Gupta wrote there was hardly any information on McCain’s mental health.)

That was then. Now McCain is looking increasingly shaky, whether he’s repeating his “Miss Congeniality” joke twice in the same debate or speaking from notecards even when reciting a line for (literally) the 17th time (“The fundamentals of our economy are strong”) or repeatedly confusing proper nouns that begin with S (Sunni, Shia, Sudan, Somalia, Spain). McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance — a replay of Al Gore’s sarcastic sighing in 2000 — didn’t make the deferential Obama look weak (as many Democrats feared) but elevated him into looking like the sole presidential grown-up.

[Italics and emphasis mine]

I am no medical expert, but Frank Rich may be on to something here. The “S syndrome” may also explain why John McCain repeatedly confuses spin with substance, skullduggery with straighttalk, sleaze with statesmanship, surge with success and Sarah with Superwoman.

And, talking about Superwoman, whatever the final diagnosis is, I hope that McCain’s ailment is not contagious, or we’ll soon hear Sarah Palin confuse superstition with science, shtick with savvy and swiftboating with sense (of right, and wrong). On second thought, it may already be too late for the pitbull with (s)lipstick…

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