The speculation gained steam on Infowars, the conspiracy theorist website run by Alex Jones—a noted 9/11 truther who believes the slain Sandy Hook children were “actors.” On August 4th, they ran a story claiming the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was in poor health, “having seizures even while in public.” A flurry of stories by her opponent Donald Trump’s favorite propaganda rag The National Enquirer (sorry, Breitbart) followed, and before long Trump himself, who’s repeated many a claim that originated on Infowars and the Enquirer, addressed the manufactured controversy in a speech in Ohio in late August: “[Hillary] lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS and all of the many adversaries we face.”
So, when Hillary Clinton nearly fainted at the 9/11 Memorial, all the evidence-free gossip that had been spread by Infowars, the Enquirer, and their No. 1 fan—Donald Trump—finally bubbled to the surface. Of course, it was only walking pneumonia. But it’s pretty diabolical, isn’t it? An obese 70-year-old man who eats almost exclusively fast food calling into question the physical fitness of a woman two years his junior who does yoga, thus forcing her to adopt a grin and bear it approach with any and all illnesses until one inevitably overcomes her. Anyway, this whole silly Mean Girls-esque charade (more policy, please?) prompted Hillary to publicly release a detailed letter from her doctor giving the all-clear, and Trump to show his records (cooked up by this space cadet) to fellow snake oil salesman Dr. Oz.
Enter feminist icon Gloria Steinem. On Thursday morning, the 82-year-old appeared on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show Chelsea to discuss all the health hullabaloo.
“It’s Donald who should be hospitalized, not elected [president],” declared Steinem, a fervent Hillary supporter.
“You know what? I’ve had walking pneumonia and you don’t necessarily know that you have it, I mean you just get exhausted,” she added. “First we punish [Hillary] for being too vulnerable to be president and then we punish her for being not vulnerable enough. It’s so frustrating. I can’t bear it. I really can’t bear it.”
“I mean, we weren’t for Sarah Palin because she was a woman. Hello! It’s not about biology. It’s about people who stand for the majority dreams and concerns and so on. And if they also have the experience of walking around for a lifetime as an African-American person, a female person, a gay or lesbian, it helps—because they can empathize. But it’s the representation and the issues that come first.”
When Handler asked whether “age should play a factor” in who we choose as president—our current POTUS, Barack Obama, was elected at age 47 and Reagan was elected at nearly 70, while the average age of past presidents is 54 years and 11 months—Steinem politely shook her head.
“No, not necessarily,” she said. “I think [mental] health and sanity plays a factor, which is why we don’t need Trump.”
Steinem was joined on the Chelsea couch by Sarah Silverman, who delivered awell-received (and partly improvised) speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, telling the “Bernie or Bust” crowd: “You’re being ridiculous.”
“That was just in the moment,” she said of her DNC speech. “I was saying it to the fringe, fundamentalist—every sect has this fringe-fundamentalist version that is bananas, you know? That’s the extreme. So there are these ‘Bernie or Bust’ people that are anti-Hillary and are like, ‘Bernie or nothing!’ Well, there is no nothing, like, what’s your endgame?”
“Look, I love Bernie but most people who change the world are not the president,” added Silverman. “But let’s get an ally in office to continue this—an ally of Bernie’s. Someone who’s gonna listen to the revolution and feel the pressure of people speaking out. She does.”