Although I dislike Donald Trump intensely because of his many awful personal qualities and the policies he pursues (I really do not think I need to list all of them), one thing that has impressed me is his health. He is almost 76 years old, an age when the natural aging process reveals itself in the form of all manner of ailments. And yet, he seems to not have any serious health problems (at least as far as we know) and seems to be able to speak for well over an hour at his rallies. That requires some stamina.
This is surprising since he has all the hallmarks of a heart attack waiting to happen, since he eats junk food, is overweight, and seemingly does not exercise. He does have a florid complexion, but whether that is due to high blood pressure or the tanning and bronzing that he reportedly undergoes in his vanity is hard to say. The only good thing he does is get a lot of fresh air by being outdoors a lot playing golf, even though he rides around in a golf cart, thus foregoing even that little opportunity to walk and stretch his muscles. However he does not drink or smoke, which is a big plus.
Every indication is that he will run for the presidency in 2024 when he will be 78 years old. The Republican party is now the party of Trump, adopting all his worst qualities as their own and it looks like the nomination is his for the taking. Apart from some major legal or financial problems that may crop up in the next two years, only health concerns might prevent him from running again, and so some commentators such as Arick Wierson are looking for clues as to whether it might become a factor.
Pols, pundits and former associates of Trump are split about whether he will toss his hat in the ring a third time. Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney and “fixer,” told CNN last year that Trump’s “fragile ego cannot stand to be considered a two-time loser.” On the other hand, many analysts — including me — believe that Trump may very well take another crack at returning to the White House in 2024. In a recent piece, I argued that no matter the stakes, Trump will likely have no other option than to run again, given the wide array of legal problems bearing down on him, his family members and his business interests.
So, with so much at stake for him personally, as well as for his party and the country, it was notable that, in a recent interview with The Washington Post, the former president floated the possibility that his health could become an important factor in weighing whether he would run again in 2024: “You always have to talk about health. You look like you’re in good health, but tomorrow, you get a letter from a doctor saying come see me again. That’s not good when they use the word again.”
This offhand comment — one that apparently came as something of an afterthought toward the end of the interview — sent shock waves through the political establishment, because it was the first time that Trump, who has been notoriously secretive about sharing his health records with the public, seemed to admit that health issues might influence his decision to run. He has often been deliberately misleading and even dishonest about his health, and for him to proactively bring it up as a potential reason not to run in 2024 is something of a watershed moment. But Trump being Trump, what you see or hear is not exactly what you get, and it would be ill-advised to take his comments at face value.
Wierson suggests various reasons why Trump may have dropped such a hint about his health.
One possibility is that Trump is on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, his ego demands that he run to erase the bitter taste of being a loser. This whole bogus campaign of acting like the 2020 election was rigged and that he actually won is an attempt to cover up that indelible stain, because he has to know that he really lost. Winning re-election in 2024 would go a long way towards easing that pain.
But he must also surely realize that there is the danger that, despite all the rigging that he and his supporters are engaged in to swing the election in their favor, he might lose again. Being a two-time loser would be something that his ego simply could not tolerate. If he thinks that all the signs are that that might happen, he may use the health excuse to not run again to be spared that ignominy.
As with all things Trump, one simply cannot predict what might happen. The man is driven purely by what is best for him personally and how that calculus works out in the recesses of his brain is something that is almost impossible to tease out.