The Doctor’s Letter
Last December Donald Trump released his health report, written by his personal physician of 39 years, Dr. Harold Bornstein. Of all the strange, bizarre, and at times pure burlesque events associated with the Trump campaign, this might be the most ridiculous yet. It’s a perfect microcosm of the circus act that is Donald J. Trump. At first it aroused much suspicion and guffaws, but was quickly lost in the news cycle due to the mass shooting in San Bernardino only two days earlier, with its salacious links to Islamic extremists. Only because the Trump campaign has recently jumped on the bandwagon with those questioning Hillary’s health has this truly goofy letter attracted fresh scrutiny.
On Dec. 3rd, Trump tweeted: “As a presidential candidate, I have instructed my long-time doctor to issue, within two weeks, a full medical report – it will show perfection.” The doctor’s letter is dated Dec. 4th. There are so many things about it that boggle the mind. The header is in the same font as the letter, which is a little strange. Dr. Jacob Bornstein (his father) is listed just above his name, yet he had died in 2010. The header includes the website: www.haroldbornsteinmd.com, but when you go there you’re redirected to another site, www.annoyingteddy.com which sells THE ORIGINAL ANNOYING HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEDDY that will sing “Happy Birthday” for three hours. The footer lists him as serving at the Department of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology, at Lennox Hill Hospital. There is no “section” of Gastroenterology at Lennox Hill, but there is a Gastroenterology Division, and he’s not part of that, either.
His photograph shows him long-haired, with beard and glasses. He’d place pretty “high” in a Jerry Garcia lookalike contest. The guy looks like the doctor character in a Cheech and Chong movie, but far be it from me to judge his appearance. The letter opens with: “To Whom My Concern:” and is full of, well, I was about to say something gastrointestinal. The doctor writes: “Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results.” That sounds great, just great, until you realize that in medical terminology “positive” means you have something. Good grief, I hope he wasn’t tested for herpes, Alzheimer’s, Dunning-Kruger, or gangrene.
The good doctor continues: “Actually, his blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent.” I looked through the Dictionary of Medical Terms (Barron’s Medical Guides), as well as Medical Terminology For Dummies, and could find no listing for “astonishingly excellent,” but I’m developing a theory as to who really wrote the letter. Who does it sound like to you? It goes on: “His PSA [prostate exam] test score is 0.15 (very low).” Physicians don’t give “test scores” for the PSA, as far as I know. It’s not a written exam (which reminds me, I once stayed up all night studying for a urine test, but in the end I couldn’t pass it). “His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” Yes, he’s very god-like. “His cardiovascular status is excellent.” What, not tremendous? Terrific? The doctor writes that he’s pleased to report that Mr. Trump has had no significant medical problems, then concludes: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
Was that enough superlatives, do you think? This is, without doubt, the best health report ever, believe me, the best, absolutely terrific. Anyway, the doctor was on NBC, August 26th, being asked about the letter. He said he wrote it in about five minutes, while Mr. Trump waited outside in his limousine. He sounded pretty spacy, like, the dude is far out, man. He said he wrote the letter in a rush (I’ll bet he did!) and might have used different language given more time. Numerous actual doctors have weighed in about that language, how unprofessional it is, how physicians write their reports clearly and concisely in case others may need to consult them.
Like a game of Tetris, the pieces are all falling and synching up together. Let’s review: Dec. 2nd — the mass shooting in San Bernardino, 14 dead, possible Islamic terrorist angle. Dec. 3rd — Trump tweets that within two weeks he’ll release his medical report. Then, on Dec. 4th — the doctor writes a rushed letter in five minutes while Trump waits outside in the limousine. Well, we knew he’s a master of media manipulation, and just as shrewd in knowing when to avoid media coverage. This is the stuff he’s really good at. But his Narcissistic Personality Disorder has masked off to him the fact that he’s so over the top. Does he think the American people are really that stupid? Okay, strike that. I’ll put it another way: does he really think the American people are that stupid?
As I write this (mid-September), there’s been a new development, and why not? After Hillary had a fainting spell at the 9/11 commemoration, the health of both candidates came back into media focus. On Monday, Sept. 12th, Hair Furor made the following announcement in his usual grammatically challenged, stream of consciousness style: “This last week I took a physical, and I’ll be releasing, when the numbers come in, hopefully they are going to be good, I feel great, but when the numbers come in, I’ll be releasing very specific numbers.” And like the reality TV personality he is, he’ll be releasing them on Dr. Oz’s TV show. I hope for all our sakes he chose a real doctor this time.
As for that letter and who might have written it, Trump has pulled stunts like this before. Going back to the 1980s, he often spoke to journalists by phone and acting as his own spokesman or publicist. He’s used the names John Miller and John Barron, and even admitted in a 1990 court case that he may have used the name John Miller on occasion.
He knows it doesn’t matter, because tomorrow he’ll stage some other stunt, and that will dominate the next news cycle. He makes me think of The Fool card in Tarot; oblivious, looking up at the sky as he’s about to step off a cliff. Ideally, the Fool represents pure potential, new beginnings, faith, or a new belief system. If the card comes up reversed (upside down), the negative aspects are emphasized: a childish naivete, making it up as you go, folly, recklessness, and ignorance. One Tarot website has it “getting completely lost in one’s head,” and another mentioned psychiatric illness. That all sounds about right, doesn’t it? The modern card deck was based on the Tarot, with the four suits, the court cards, and the Joker replacing the Fool. That fits Trump, too; he’s the wild card. But it also fits the Joker of Batman mythology. These characters are only a few short steps away from the jester and clown. He already has the fright wig, but what frightens me more are the fools, clowns, and jokers who think he’s just what this country needs.