There's strategic sexism in Trump's attacks on Clinton's health. It's working.

Hillary Clinton: Strength, stamina and a double standard

Donald Trump’s sexist narrative belies the fact that Hillary Clinton is a known workhorse, the most well-travelled Secretary of State ever

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a memorial service at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a memorial service at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

Donald Trump’s sustained attack on Hillary Clinton’s lack of “strength and stamina” began a year ago as a low hound-dog whistle. He repeated the charge like a mantra in speeches and interviews: “She doesn’t have the strength or the stamina [to be president],” Trump said on Live with Kelly and Michael last December. It was a bizarre accusation to level against a known workhorse who was the most well-travelled Secretary of State ever. But that was back when no one took the nonsense spewed by the former reality-TV star seriously; it wasn’t as if there was any chance he’d become president.

By August, Trump was framing Clinton’s alleged lack of stamina as a national security risk: Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, and all the many adversaries we face,” he said in his speech on national security. That there was no evidence to support the statement was irrelevant in Trump’s zero-evidence campaign. His spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, not a doctor, went on MSNBC to diagnose Clinton with “dysphasia,” a brain disorder. Clinton countered by going on Jimmy Kimmel Live to show she could open a pickle jar—giving rise to allegations of lid-tampering.

MORE: Both presidential candidates are lying. These days, that no longer matters.

Little wonder that Clinton’s Labour Day cough, chalked up to allergies, was heard around the world. Or that Sunday’s video of a wobbly Clinton requiring assistance to get into a van after leaving a 9/11 memorial early, officially made “strength and stamina” an election issue overshadowing all else. The Clinton campaign, true to form, stonewalled. “I’m feeling great,” Clinton told reporters on Sunday hours before her pneumonia diagnosis was made public. The prevarication gave Trump opportunity to fuse, and weaponize, his two favourite lines of attack: Clinton’s lack of stamina and “Crooked Hillary.”

There is definite strategy, one bristling with sexism, in Trump’s longstanding charges against Clinton. Strength and stamina are words used to describe men—and to sell Viagra. The words featured in the vague, bombastic letter from Trump’s physician about his health were predictable: the candidate’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary,” it claimed.

Casting aspersions on Clinton’s stamina also taps into archaic definitions of women as vulnerable, as the “weaker vessel,” as the Bible puts it, even though actuarial tables suggest otherwise. It’s the same thinking that holds monthly hormonal shifts render women unfit to handle nuclear codes, or simply unfit, as evident in Trump’s risible criticism that CNN’s Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her whatever.”

The Clinton camp made a mistake in not revealing Clinton’s illness earlier. Video evidence of presidential candidates appearing weak and thus unpresidential can kill a campaign—Michael Dukakis in a tank in 1988, a 73-year-old Bob Dole plunging more than a metre after leaning on an unsecured railing in 1996. But Clinton would be slammed no matter what she did. Should she have gone to the 9/11 memorial to sit in 30° C heat? No. Could she have skipped it? No. Announcing she was suffering from a respiratory illness that tends to afflict the elderly ran the risk that the state of her health would fuel wild speculation, as we’re seeing. Since Clinton suffered a blood clot after a fall in 2012, her health has been fodder for extreme theories: stroke, brain damage, use of a double. So she went to her usual privacy default, risking cover-up accusations. She ignored her doctor and, as women do, “powered through it,” a term that’s become the new “lean in.” On Friday, the day she was diagnosed, Clinton’s jam-packed schedule included two fundraisers, a two-hour national-security meeting and a CNN interview.

That required constitutional fortitude. But that fact isn’t reflected in media coverage, which has fallen in lockstep with Trump’s stamina narrative. “Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign,” the Washington Post declared. Many outlets, including CTV, referred obliquely to her “health episode” as if there’s more to it.

The double standards are glaring. Clinton has promised more health records this week, amid calls for her MRI scans. She has already provided medical reports, tax returns, policy specifics. Trump has delivered none, though promised more detailed medical records this week. Still, Clinton is the one blasted for lacking transparency.

MORE: An absurd week in America’s two-tier election

The insanity continues this week with Trump appearing on The Dr. Oz Show “to share his vision for America’s health,” and “his own health regime,” according to promos. This is a man who got out of military service because of bone spurs on his heels, who eats fast food, who doesn’t exercise, who has confused the day of the week on the campaign trail and whose vague health care plan includes repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the woman accused of no stamina is expected to return to the campaign trail by midweek. With two months to go, the stage has been set. When Trump and Clinton meet for their first debate later this month, all eyes will be on her to turn in a superhero performance. Her every blink and pause will be parsed for signs of synaptic breakdown. Trump just has to show up. His mission has been accomplished.


Hillary Clinton: Strength, stamina and a double standard

  1. Hildebeast will be lucky to be alive come November.

    • She will be alive long after you.

      • Everyone should put away their keyboard.
        Emilyone, wise oracle, all-knowing seer, prophetess, and modern-day Nostradamus has contributed her opinion on the subject.
        No further discussion is necessary, having received Emilyone’s wisdom. For which we should all be thankful.
        Let us now go about our other business.
        Thank you, Emilyone.

        • Just like a True Trumpist. Ignore the nonsense from Lespaul, but vainly attempt to discredit the person who calls BS.

          Yes, please, put away your keyboard.

    • Har har har. About the level of wit I’d expect from a Trumpster.

  2. I tried to read this article, I really did, but I could only manage to get about one third through it before giving up in exasperation. There’s a certain detachment from reality that Anne has mastered. She is not hindered by facts, and truth appears to come secondary to promoting her narrative. For her, Trump criticizing Hillary Clinton’s stamina is sexist. What was it when he did the exact same thing to Bush, Rubio, and Carson during the primaries? Was it sexist then?

    Listen, Trump is a jerk. He attacks people with low-blows and clearly does not possess the temperament expected of a presidential candidate. However, he appears to be an equal opportunity offender. He will say ignorant, downright offensive things to anyone, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or orientation. To put it simply, he is a bad person.

    Women deserve to be treated equally in all aspects of life, especially politics. What contradicts that notion is the idea that anytime a woman is questioned or criticized, just as a man would be, that it is somehow sexist. Hillary Clinton has raised numerous questions about her health over the past several years. That’s fair game to bring up now just as it was eight years ago with John McCain. The left can attempt to paint everyone opposed to Clinton as sexist, just as it painted everyone opposed to Obama as racist, but I suspect that the shelf-life of that tactic is almost expired.

    • Reading 3 paragraphs of a 9 paragraph article (“one third”) is a remarkable accomplishment for a Trumpist. Be proud.

      • What part of anything that I have said makes you think I am a Trumpist? If there is something in my post that you disagree with, then I am happy to discuss. If not, then at least try to make your insults accurate. I said that he is a jerk, a bad person, and that he doesn’t posses the temperament expected of a presidential candidate. If that makes me a “Trumpist” in your mind, then perhaps your worldview is as distorted as Anne’s here.

        • Well said Tangler. Ignore trolls like ARK2. It’s a shame people like that can’t rise above insults, and actually present a rational argument.

          • Mr. Bauer, You made a typo. You typed “Ark2” when you ment “Tangler”.
            This is a common problem for people who still cling to outdated progressive ideologies and are unable to tolerate diverse ideas.

      • Why didn’t you try to counter ARK2’s points instead of name calling. Name calling does not win debates. If you want to make a ‘leftist’ out of a ‘trumpist’, engage their arguments and debate. If someone calls you a name, don’t stoop to their level and debate with facts and reason. If that had happened more…..Trump would not be winning at the moment.

        Also, here I am, a would be Trump supporter, pleading with the opposition to debate instead of name call. We need balanced discourse from both the left AND the right.

    • where is the upvote button … I have nothing to add but kudos for a great comment

    • “For her, Trump criticizing Hillary Clinton’s stamina is sexist. ”

      Exactly right, playing the girly victim card is so pathetic and outdated.

      A similar thing happened during Obama’s election in 2008, no one could criticize him without the MSM screaming racism.

      Even comedians, who make a living out making fun of Presidents, couldn’t tell Obama jokes for his entire first year in office. If they did they’d be labeled racist and that could end their career.

      What has happened to journalists?

    • I agree that Trump will insult anyone and everyone. That’s his M.O. But the real culprits in the double standard is not Trump per se, but the public and the media who are being pulled along by the nose on this as if it was a real thing. The mainstream media is giving credibility to all of these conspiracy theories and all the sexist talk. Trump may be the cheerleader but he has a very willing following that is the problem. And most of the press is being played here – reporting innuendo as if it were fact – all in the interest of trying to appear even handed when talking about Trump and Clinton. This insane desire for some sort of perceived neutrality in reporting has normalized the abnormal (Trump) and victimized Clinton.

  3. Why not even pretend to present the case honestly?

    ” Sunday’s video of a wobbly Clinton requiring assistance to get into a van”

    Wobbly? She was out cold and carried into the van. That is more than a difference in nuance.

    As “women do” she powered through it? No man has ever worked through an illness. The sexism angle here is really, really sad.

    • She was not “out cold”, nor was she “carried” anywhere. The absolute inability of Trumpists to convey anything which even remotely resembles a fact is utterly astonishing.

      • Either you haven’t watched the video or you are lying. She was dragged into her van by 3 of her assistants. Watch her feet in the video, they are literally dragging along the concrete.

        • Correct. Tangler depends on name calling as he (she or it) does not possess the intellectual assets to make an intelligent comment.

          • :)

  4. As SofS she was a workhorse to ensure that money flowed to the Clinton Foundation. As a presidential candidate her work has been minimal – her events have been fundraisers in front of very adoring crowds who are willing to hand her lots of money (in return for what exactly? is the question the MSM isn’t really willing to approach). She does very few events where she might encounter less than supportive people who she will have to interact with.

    In contract as rude and crude that Trump might be (I think it is refreshing, but that’s just me), he, at least, is out in front of crowds almost every day -most supportive but there are always more than a few protesters. That is a tiring schedule of events.

    So enough of the ‘how hard Hillary works” nonsense from the MSM. What they are actually seeing is a tired old person who is stumbling towards her sole goal in life – being president. No real explanation as to why she wants to be President – except that after being in the public eye for 40 years she ‘deserves’ it.

    • Enough of the Trumpist rhetorical nonsense. What we are actually seeing is a dimwitted, pathetic narcissist stumbling towards the only goal he has had since childhood – a desire to be worshipped. There is no real explanation as to why he wants to be President – except that he believes he “deserves” it.

    • You must have had a horrible childhood to always be this snarly.

      But I hope Hillary achieves her ‘goat’ in life.

    • Great comment Maureen. I have watched the video, and not only were they dragging her, she lost her shoe. She is known to have had a concussion, which we all know now, can have long term debilitating effects. Besides her precarious health, there is also her steady stream of lies, her corruption, especially with the Clinton Foundation, and events going all the way back to Whitewater. She even got Trump to agree to debate sitting down. If she is so strong, why can’t she stand on her feet to debate. Trump is no prize, but he is the best of the two.

  5. Was Hillary’s campaign being sexist against Bernie when they said he was too old and sick to run for president, and demanded his medical records? For that matter, where they racist in 2008 when they started the whole “birther” stuff with Obama? I definitely agree that there are double standards in the media.

    • During this election their seems to be a lot of people plugging their ears and going LALALALALALALALA to valid points from the other side of the political spectrum. What happened to being critical of BOTH sides. I am also a little disappointed with CBC, HuffPo and Macleans. There has always been a left leaning bias (I am liberal which is why I frequent these sites), but the coverage of this election has been so biased and the amount of information being left out is astounding. The reality is, I now have to frequent right leaning news sites to fill in the blanks left out by the usual left leaning MSM. Here I am, a Trudeau liberal, having to go to a variety of right leaning news sites in order to fill in the rest of these stories with appropriate context. To be honest, the sheer amount of inaccuracies from the left is pushing me to the political right (makes me center I guess lol?).

      It is also worrying since people do not seem to realise that, at the moment, Trump is crushing Clinton’s campaign with scary momentum. Everyone NEEDS to expand their perspective and start chatting with the other side of the political spectrum……otherwise, I have a feeling there is going to be an unexpected nasty surprise for a lot of people come this November. No one seems to explain a Trump voter other then saying they are a bigot or dumb. That is a HUGE underestimation. In order to defeat your opponent, you have to know why people are voting for him and address those issues accordingly.

      ex. Who here watched the interview where Black Panther leader of Houston Quanell X endorsed Trump? That is a BIG DEAL. The Clinton campaign needs to know why that happened…and I am not sure if they do.

      One of the biggest problems in the US right now is that people are only talking to others they agree with and ignoring the other side. We all need to come together (from every political point of view), put the name calling aside (sexist, racist, misogynist, etc) and actually chat and hash this out.

    • Forgot to mention:…..good comment JOHND80

  6. There is nothing sexist in these questions. The best answer is the one you already gave Anne … she is the most travelled sec of state … outdoing the many men before her.
    at best, the response of some to the question could be considered sexist …. but then politics trades on stereotypes and assumptions …

  7. The problem with liars is that you can’t believe them. Hillary appeared two hours after the fall leaving Chelsea’s apartment, and declared that she “feels great”. You don’t “feel great” when you have pnuemonia, trust me, I have had both the “walking” type, and the “your going to stay in bed two weeks” type. She could have easily just said “I’ve had worse days, and like them, I will get through this one”. But she chose not to. How does this make her any different than Trump? Both of them are unworthy of the position that they are seeking, albeit for different reasons.

    • When I recover from a serious bout of anything, I “feel great”. But to a Trumpist, Clinton saying “I feel great” after recovering from her bout of something must be a lie. Hilarious.

      • Tangler:
        I’m trying to figure out which is your most dominant characteristic: your arrogance or your ignorance. A difficult choice. I’m left with the conclusion that it’s a toss-up.

      • So in your mind, 2 days after being diagnosed with pneumonia, and 2 hours after fainting, it makes sense for someone to say that they “feel great”. Just to clarify, you find that those who think the opposite of that are “hilarious”?

      • Tangler, if you are referring to me as a “Trumpist”, please read my post again. Slowly.

        Also, note that Hilary spent time off the campaign trail “recovering” after Sunday, so it’s quite apparent that she hadn’t “recovered” after a couple of hours at Chelsea’s apartment.

        Still laughing?

  8. Hillary’s in a bad place. The only way she staves off personal ruin and disgrace- and probably prison- is to win what was supposed to be a cakewalk. Trump has seized on the three things that give regular Americans a lot of concern- bad trade deals, immigration, and national security (also tied to immigration). Hillary represents the elites who have helped to foster those problems. Not to mention, she’s wildly corrupt. You can’t actually believe that she would risk federal prison over some e-mails about yoga lessons and wedding plans. You can’t actually believe that someone in her position had some 33,000 emails about yoga and weddings in a two-year period. That’s just the tip of the Clinton iceberg.
    On his very, very worst behavior, Donald Trump is a far better human being, and more qualified for the Presidency than Clinton.

    • I’ve often thought that Trumpists have such a warped view of reality that they need professional help. Imagining them beside me in a store or on the street is truly frightening.

      • Tangler….your comment accomplishes nothing. I will now plays devils advocate to Bill Greenwood (I would vote Trump before Hillary).

        “On his very, very worst behavior, Donald Trump is a far better human being, and more qualified for the Presidency than Clinton.”

        If this is the case Bill Greenwood, could you please address the concerns regarding Trump’s financial history and documented habit of bullying contractors and not paying. Also, if he is so qualified for office why is his Economic Policy so disastrous accoring to many economists.

        ….and the counter to the above argument:

        Trump may demonstrate weakness in his Economic Policy, but his Healthcare Policies are actually robust and will have a very positive impact in the US and encourage competition to lower prices on pharmaceutical and health care costs (this is not a lie…it is actually quite good).

        • Joe8- I guess I would boil my argument down to the simple basics. There is no pattern of accusations of outright lawlessness against Trump, whereas the Clinton’s have never not been tinged with corruption and lawlessness.
          Trump may be a “slick”, which is not a nice term, but he’s not criminally corrupt and vindictive. Nor does he have a long pattern of lying at every turn, whereas the Clinton’s are as estranged from the truth as Honolulu is from winter.
          Trump is a lot of things that aren’t great. But, he has it right on the three things that the elites have dead wrong precisely because they (and Canada’s elites are similarly guilty but not to the extent that plagues America) have insulated themselves from the realities that average Americans endure on those fronts.
          Mass illegal immigration does not merely drive down wages. It drives up taxes because those illegals impose large burdens on social services and health care while not contributing taxes themselves. They also drive up education costs because they impose extra needs such as extra ESL teachers while not contributing taxes. Then there are other less definable burdens. In California, for example, the state has imposed “fees” on traffic fines solely to cover the revenue lost on traffic fines owed by illegal immigrants who simply don’t pay traffic fines. They also don’t buy car insurance, or even register their vehicles. This kind of thing has no impact on most elites.
          Trump has mentioned the EPA. It’s just one of a number of federal and state agencies that are out of control. Mindless over-regulation is killing jobs and destroying hard-earned private wealth in dozens of areas of the economy. Again, many lawmakers enrich themselves by investing according to the regulations they impose. They tend to only see regulations in a positive light, while over-regulation will either block or eliminate the possibility of upward mobility for a thousand American families this week, and next week, and every week in the foreseeable future.
          That leaves trade. Free trade is generally a good thing, but only when the playing field is relatively level. It’s not reasonable to the average American worker to burden him with a plethora of vexatious and expensive regulations on almost every aspect of his workplace, and then pursue free trade with an industrial nation that imposes none of those regulations, and routinely ignores many other aspects of commercial trade law that have helped us to become trading nations in the first place.
          People like Clinton (or Barack Obama or Justin Trudeau) have never known a tool and die maker or a welder or a plumber or a small businessman of any stripe, let alone someone who has had their lives turned upside down by the results of the policies so adored and pursued by these elites.
          They don’t get that. Trump actually does.

  9. I dont see any double standard gin this health issue because good health is not about “being a workhorse” in the midst of being diagnosed with disease. Promoting “good health” is not about setting an example to the children, adults, seniors and to the women of America to “disregard their doctor’s advice, and power through it, as women do”. That is foolish, dangerous and just plain stupid. And it’s teaching Americans to be just as stubborn and instead of listening to your own ‘dis-ease’ and stop, relax and allow your self to heal, Hillary is unfortunately advocating for the opposite, which is very tragic. I do wish she would take her health more seriously because she would be setting a better example for Americans to value their health than to overwork themselves to death. It’s better to be poor and healthy than to have riches and no able body to use it.

  10. Being a well-traveled workhorse as Secretary of State still doesn’t tell me very much.

    Because I am interested in knowing how effective Hillary was at being Secretary of State. And by that I want information regarding the status of relationships between the USA and the rest of the World. Which Nations did she visit? How many times? Which nations did Hillary improve relations with??? How so and how significantly?

    If someone is really good at their job they really doing need to be a tiring and exhausted workhorse because that just tells me that something isn’t right. If they are masterful at their work they are efficient and don’t need to tirelessly run themselves to the ground, getting little done in the process. I just feel sad for such people and we ought to have pity and compassion for these people because we want everyone to be full of life and be amazing workers with ideal health.

  11. Trump is a pathological liar, classic narcisist, demagogue and willing to say anything to appeal to voters. So far he has done it as a private citizen. Hillary is his equal except she has done it while supposedly acting as a “public servant” with the complicity of the media, the DNC and the machine behind the White House. Those saying she wasn’t carried to the van should admit you watched it again and can see that because you are simply just looking sooooo stupid to say anything different. Not that being carried makes a difference she was obviously sick at the time. Her only saving grace is that as president she will have bigger balls then Trump or Obama could ever have imagned.