So, Hillary has had a moment. She felt unwell, was later diagnosed with pneumonia, after – according to an amateur video – she had a bit of a stumble getting into her car as she left a 9/11 commemoration in New York.
I’ve already seen this described as a ‘Black Swan Moment’ on social – that great slammer of everyone and everything. And of course, Trump is claiming the incident shows Hillary is unfit to run for the presidency.
Because apparently, to run for president requires that one first denies one’s humanity. And this fits perfectly with Trump’s narcissistic, adolescent view of himself and the world. What could be more natural for this man than to slate another human being for being unwell – as if sickness and health do not apply to him? No matter that, when asked a few short hours later how she felt, Hillary’s iron mantel was already in place and she was able to reply that she felt fine and that it was a beautiful day in New York.
I think that says a lot more about her caliber as a candidate, than the fact she caught pneumonia in the first place. In fact, being human is a requirement for getting many things in life, Mr Trump, including, but not exclusively, a sense of humour, a nuance and the ability to differentiate between idiocy and sexism etc, etc.
And what warnings does Trump’s reaction give us about his future government?
A leader who rushes to condemn another in their moment of vulnerability is not a leader but a liability. We’ve seen that Trump Tendancy before; when he insulted a gold star family in front of their nation. And it’s not just because of how Trump takes a break from the supine for a bit of casual slating, but because Trump has not yet realised that in the future of his nation, taking sides won’t win anything. In the years ahead, the US will rise or fall as a nation in the way it embraces ‘the other’. Whether the needs of the sick, or the integration of BME communities or the economically marginalised, or its place in an increasingly troubled world. A leader who can think holistically, inclusively and in terms of unity – not division – is the caliber of nation-builder needed. Not a chess pawn that mistakes itself for a knight.
And then there is history, which reminds us that even the greatest of our leaders were fallible. Achilles had his heel, and Caesar his Cleopatra and Elizabeth her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots.
There are degrees of vulnerable, of fallibility. Not all of them compromise the integrity of a leader; and yes, some should bar a leader from leadership. Oscar Wilde thought that the desire to enter politics should itself block a person from that world. I disagree, but only if there existed a giant sieve we could deploy to sort good eggs from bad before they have a crack at office.
Hillary having a viral stumble doesn’t affect her suitability for the candidacy. I don’t see a swooning, weak woman. I see a woman who was ill and still showed up at her duties – honouring the dead, standing with the living in the heat of summer.
Hillary shouldn’t be running for the presidency; she should be running for a generalship.