A Simple Mistake?

I was saddened to hear yesterday that President Clinton will be undergoing heart bypass surgery. It’s amazing that Ford and Carter are still going strong while the relatively young Clinton is suffering from advanced heart disease. President Ford is nearly 92 years old, whereas Clinton just turned 58!

Someone should do a study comparing time in office and post-White House lifespan. It seems the longer one serves as president, the shorter their lifespan after they retire. Ford only had a portion of one term, so perhaps that’s the secret of his success. If stress kills, this theory would make sense. Hell, all you have to do is compare photos of them on inauguration day and when leaving office to see what that job does to a person.

Whatever the reason, my thoughts and prayers are with President Clinton for a full recovery. As the man himself said, many people never get a warning before a major heart attack kills them, so Clinton is actually lucky.

It also seems that bypass surgery isn’t nearly the risk it used to be. My father had open heart surgery in the 1970s. Today the mortality rates are far lower. For example, the procedure Clinton will undergo — a quadruple bypass — has a mortality rate of less than 1%. Amazingly low when you think about what the surgery involves: sawing through the breastbone, spreading the ribs apart, moving major organs out of the way, transplanting veins from the leg to the heart, and putting the patient back together again.

I wish that was the end of the story, but alas there is always somone out there trying to make political hay of things. And in this case, it comes from a surprising source. Or perhaps it’s not so surprising. The Associated Press reported that when President Bush said that Clinton would remain “in our thoughts and prayers” during a campaign rally, the crowed actually booed!

Audience boos as Bush offers best wishes for Clinton’s recovery
By Associated Press, 9/3/2004 13:57

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) President Bush on Friday wished Bill Clinton ”best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.”

”He’s is in our thoughts and prayers,” Bush said at a campaign rally.

Bush’s audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

People who were there said they heard no booes. And with audio clips to back it up, the Associated Press changed the offending paragraph to read:

The crowd reacted with applause and with some “ooohs,” apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill.

Gee, that was transparent. The AP doesn’t think too highly of their readers’ intelligence. Later, the article was changed again, omitting any mention of the crowd or the fact that it applauded President Bush’s remarks. More on this story (including screen shots and audio clips) from one who saw it first-hand.

There’s been more and more of this blatent chicanery from the press lately. Is it a recent development, or has it always been there and only now with the advent of the technology are we able to prove it? One thing I can say for sure: the way this AP story was reported was no mistake.

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