Everything that has anything to do with President Donald Trump and his health is surreal.
We’ve met two Trump doctors now and, despite their very different appearances and backgrounds, both have given almost unbelievably upbeat assessments of his health.
They’re also both no longer his doctor.
The similarities end there but the stories do not. Dr. Harold Bornstein said he lost his patient after letting slip to The New York Times that he’d prescribed Propecia. A “raid” – his term – of his office by Trump associates ensued. That term has since been disputed.
Dr. Ronny Jackson lost Trump as his patient after a painful and embarrassing short stint as Trump’s nominee to head the Veterans Affairs Department.
That both doctors vouched for the health of a man who mainlines McDonald’s and likes steak and meatloaf is incredible. He doesn’t exercise because, according to one report, he thinks every human has a finite amount of energy in their lifetime and he doesn’t want to use his up.
That he should still be healthy has never made any sense and, if true, it’s not fair to the rest of the human population that has to watch its weight and burn calories.
The first doctor of the Trump political era was Bornstein. Trump’s physician for more than 30 years, with flowing hair and dark circular glasses, looks like something of a John Lennon throwback. He’s the one who declared in a weird letter back in 2015 that, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
That led to some serious questions about how thorough a doctor Bornstein was.
It was so strangely worded that CNN’s Drew Griffin asked him at the time if it was a joke.
Jackson, the clean-cut Navy rear admiral who administered to Trump as White House physician, was not quite as effusive, but he did repeatedly crow about Trump’s good genes during a White House news conference early in 2018 and said Trump had excellent health despite high cholesterol.
That performance somehow got Jackson the nod to be VA secretary despite his lack of experience running a large organization.
We all know how that turned out at this point. After whistleblowers raised multiple questions about Jackson’s management style and medical practices (he was known as “the candy man” for handing out prescription sleep and wakefulness aids on overseas trips and there were reports of drunkenness on those trips), Jackson removed his nomination and was also removed as Trump’s personal doctor. New allegations that he may have mishandled the medical information of second lady Karen Pence have since been reported by CNN’s Manu Raju.
All that Jackson controversy led NBC to check back in with Bornstein, who said his office had been, essentially, raided by Trump’s head of security Keith Schiller, a lawyer from the Trump Organization and “a large man,” and that they had taken Trump’s medical records, without signed paperwork, leaving him feeling “raped, frightened and sad.”
A source with knowledge of the transfer of records said it was not a raid and that there was confusion at the time because Bornstein could not operate his copy machine.
What aggravated Trump and led to Bornstein’s dismissal was his admission to The New York Times that he’d prescribed Propecia to help Trump grow hair.
“I couldn’t believe anybody was making a big deal out of a drug to grow his hair that seemed to be so important. And it certainly was not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take Propecia to grow their hair. What’s the matter with that?” Bornstein told NBC News.
Jackson’s medical report on Trump in January made clear he was still taking the drug, but the disclosure that time does not appear to have had any ill effect on Jackson’s career. The ill effect would come later, from the VA nod.
In these weighty times of Russian election meddling, nuclear-aspiring North Korea, tense relations with Russia, a brewing trade war with China, unrest in the Middle East and income inequality here in the US, the doctor-patient relationship of the US President should probably take a back seat to other weighty matters in the public consciousness. But all that goes out the window when the President nominates one doctor to head the VA and another says the President’s associates raided his office.
Everything seems to become surreal when it enters Trump’s orbit.
Quick, try to name the doctor of another recent President. Jackson served both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. But you didn’t know his name until he entered Trump’s world. Now it won’t soon be forgotten.