February 23, 2023

John Fetterman

Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman, still recovering from a stroke, has checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to seek treatment for clinical depression, his office said [last] Thursday.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left praises Fetterman’s disclosure and argues that depression should not be disqualifying for public office.

“Congress remains one of the most open, porous environments in the country. It’s a place where reporters roam with almost unconstrained access, corralling senators in hallways, committee rooms, the elevator bank just off the Senate floor. Tourists and visiting constituents and lobbyists buzz about. As a senator, you can never not be on, in other words. Your life is an Ironman Triathlon of outward-facing obligations: constituent sit-downs, committee meetings, caucus lunches, votes on the floor, home-state parades and fairs and school visits and town halls and barbecues where you’re asked to don a puffy chef’s hat…

“Fetterman has basically been forced to contend with the effects of a severe brain trauma while working an absurdly demanding job in one of the most polarized and toxic political climates the country has ever known… Maybe the demands of the Senate will prove to be too much for him. But Fetterman was handily elected by Pennsylvanians, who knew quite well they were electing a man who had suffered a life-altering upset to his health. Now the question is whether they’ll allow him to acclimate on his own timetable and terms.”

Jennifer Senior, The Atlantic

“Fetterman didn’t have to say that he was hospitalized for depression… His office could have been intentionally vague, saying he was going in for additional tests, continued observation and medication adjustments. No doubt, countless public figures have used such language to conceal their mental health diagnoses…

“It’s possible this transparency is an effort to stem criticism similar to what he faced during his Senate campaign that he was not forthright about the extent of his stroke and heart conditions. Nevertheless, in choosing to be open about his depression, Fetterman is educating the public that depression is a medical ailment for which effective treatment exists… His path to recovery could give hope and finally normalize treatment for mental health conditions.”

Leana S. Wen, Washington Post

“According to a Boston University study, ‘[d]epression among adults in the United States tripled in the early 2020 months of the global coronavirus pandemic – jumping from 8.5% before the pandemic to a staggering 27.8%’, and it only got worse from there. According to the same study, rates of depression continued ‘climbing to 32.8% and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults’. Stroke victims, which Fetterman is, are particularly susceptible to depression…

Every day, millions of depressed Americans go to work, and the country wouldn’t function without them. While Fetterman may need to step down or decline to run in the future as [former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda] Arden did, he should actually be given a chance to govern… [He], like many Americans who have experienced clinical depression, can still accomplish much of what he sets out to do.”

Akin Olla, The Guardian

From the Right

The right is critical of those who pushed Fetterman to run despite his medical issues and urges him to resign.

The right is critical of those who pushed Fetterman to run despite his medical issues and urges him to resign.

“John Fetterman was sworn in as a senator from Pennsylvania on Jan. 3. On Feb. 8, after 36 days in office, Fetterman was admitted to George Washington University Hospital in Washington after experiencing symptoms he and those around him feared might indicate a stroke. Tests showed he did not have a stroke, and Fetterman was released after two nights in the hospital. On Feb. 15, after 43 days in office, Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of depression. He is still there…

“Worse, there are fears that Fetterman, by focusing on his campaign rather than his recovery, permanently damaged his health… It seems obvious now that Fetterman was in no condition to begin a six-year term as a United States senator. Of course, that was obvious, at least to some people, before the election, too. But in 2022, one man's health was so caught up in politics that reasonable concerns were overwhelmed by the partisan fray. The result is a new senator, in the hospital, facing an uncertain future.”

Byron York, Washington Examiner

“For months leading up to the now-infamous senatorial debate between Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, political observers were subjected to a withering campaign of emotional blackmail. To even discuss the senator’s post-stroke auditorial-processing issues was deemed by those in control of the political discourse’s commanding  heights ‘appalling.’ It was the functional equivalent of prejudice when it wasn’t dismissed as irrelevant…

“Fetterman’s torment is not inertial. This was, in fact, done to him. He was compelled to endure a grueling campaign. He was made to serve as an avatar for those who endure ‘ablest’ discrimination. He was required to push through the worst of it for the benefit of his party and ideological allies. The sympathy Fetterman’s condition now receives from those who made him jump through hoop after hoop rings hollow.”

Noah Rothman, National Review

“Yes, depression is very common after a stroke, which is why someone suffering from it should not be running for the US Senate. This isn’t complicated. As evidenced by his historically bad debate performance, Fetterman was not physically and mentally qualified to hold the position he was running for. The fact that he now has clinical depression is just another layer on top of what should have kept him out of the race to begin with…

“It is painfully clear that Fetterman isn’t just one more trip to the hospital away from a full recovery… The liberal press wants to make it seem as if he’ll be back to normal in no time, but given Fetterman’s issues have only accelerated over the last year, that seems improbable at best. In short, those who used Fetterman to attain political power seem perfectly fine with continuing to push him until something much worse happens than a flare-up of his clinical depression. This needs to stop, and he needs to resign.”

Bonchie, RedState

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