This appeared in Wednesday’s Washington Post.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to undergo a routine physical examination on Friday. In the run-up to the exam, the president rebutted questions about his mental health by tweeting that he “would qualify as not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!” Here’s what a more presidential president would be saying this week about his health, mental and physical:
“I know that, at 70, I was the oldest president ever to be sworn in for his first term. Although I believe I am in good shape, the public cannot help but wonder about my health. Media reports about my eating and sleeping habits, as well as my own admission during the campaign that I could lose a few pounds, can only contribute to the concern. The days in which a president could hide health problems, even major ones, from the public are rightly gone. Americans should know whether their president has the energy to stay focused through a long workday and the chances that a significant health issue could compromise the executive office in the years to come. Given heightened tensions with a nuclear-armed North Korea, among many other tense global problems, Americans also need to know that their president, with ultimate control over our nation’s vast nuclear power, is of sound mind. Some people wondered about Ronald Reagan’s mental fitness during his second term, before he was tragically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I hope to show Americans they need not harbor any similar doubts about me.
“When George W. Bush had my job at a substantially younger age, he submitted himself to a wide battery of tests from a team of doctors, and he released detailed results. I owe the public the same — or a greater — level of transparency.
“Medical records are confidential by law, and I can choose to withhold the results from the public, selectively or entirely. But I realize that I am not an ordinary citizen, and my health is a public concern. I pledge to release all results, whether positive or negative, including any medications that are prescribed for me and any other doctors’ recommendations.
“Given my father’s Alzheimer’s and my own age, I will also insist on taking a mental acuity test. I will release the results of that test also, and I will repeat it every year.
“In my effort to show the American people the same respect my predecessors did, I will also honor another long-held tradition and release two decades of tax returns along with the results of my medical exam. Presidents releasing their tax records is a bipartisan norm and a valuable one. It gives Americans a sense of how their president has conducted his private affairs and of what potential conflicts of interest he has.
“These traditions exist for good reasons. I am no more special than any other person who has held my office, and I deserve no exceptions from these expectations.”