By now pretty much everyone is aware that Rear Admiral (RADM) Ronny Jackson, the President’s and the White House physician, appeared at the White House Spokesperson’s (almost) daily press conference. He ran through the results of the President’s annual physical from last Friday and then took questions. For almost an hour. I’ve seen that it has been bandied about in some of the comments’ to other posts that RADM Jackson may be lying or fudging or was ordered to lie to protect the President. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the President, such an order would be both illegal and violate RADM Jackson’s professional responsibilities under his licensure as a physician. Had the results been bad they would have had the President invoke his HIPAA rights, cancelled RADM Jackson’s appearance and done what they usually do – brazen their way through it.
Not everything is a conspiracy. And not every piece of news you don’t like is an attempt to purposefully deceive people. A conspiracy would be having the results classified and compartmented as a matter of national security; staffing appropriate, plausible sounding talking points through the intelligence community, and then briefing those. This would also be illegal. Material cannot be classified to prevent personal and/or professional embarrassment. Moreover, the actual results would most likely leak.
The physical itself, as well as the results presented today were overseen and done by a respected physician who is also a flag officer. This isn’t the hastily typed note that Dr. Feelgood, St. Tropez School of Medicine and Mixology – Class of 78, produced for the campaign. It was a legitimate annual medical check up done in a state of the art facility by uniformed and civilian medical and laboratory professionals. While the cognitive exam, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), only takes a few minutes to complete, it is a legitimate exam. It is not, however, a psychological/psychiatric examination.
We all know people with absolutely terrible lifestyle habits that routinely get excellent results on medical tests and live far longer than we’d expect based on diet, dearth of exercise, smoking, and/or drinking. We all also know people who work to keep their diets clean, exercise regularly, minimize their risk factors, and get marginal to poor results on a number of these tests. It is what it is.
What has to be considered and understood, in light of what RADM Jackson briefed today, is that at present there is neither a medical or cognitive explanation for the President’s behavior. The impulsiveness, the recklessness, the pettiness, the strange speech patterns, the hair trigger temper, the poor grammar and syntax, including in the tweets, are simply the President. This is who he is. From my understanding of the reporting by his unauthorized biographers, his ghost writer (Tony Schwartz), his former managers (Barbara Res), this is who the President has always been. And it is who he will continue to be.