On Monday morning, Trump went on Fox & Friends to wish Hillary Clinton well: “I hope she gets well soon.” Or at least, that’s mostly how it was reported. Trump also announced that he would be releasing the results of a new physical, following up on a call that he made in late August—when alt-right conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health had reached a fever pitch—for both candidates to release more complete health records.
My reading of Trump’s Fox & Friends appearance was that it was all about sowing doubts about Clinton’s health. There’s a feint towards decency, that works as cover for the conspiratorial. In the same interview, he also said, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m like you, I see what I see.” In other words, “Yeah sure, I hope she gets better, but looking at the tapes of the coughing and the fainting, it looks like there’s something much more serious going on that she’s not telling us about.” Not exactly the stuff of Hallmark cards.
But that’s not how everyone took it. Instead, Trump’s relatively restrained take on Clinton’s illness has been singled out as a positive, even classy, move for his campaign, as if casually obeying a basic tenet of common decency was worth a gold star:
Saying “Get well soon” to a sick person is a remarkably low bar for a presidential candidate. And Trump didn’t even clear it.