Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Fetterman Leaves the Hospital

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) had a serious stroke last year. He is still feeling the effects of it. Since the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, accomodations have been made to help him. For example, he has a custom monitor on his Senate desk that provides closed captioning, so he can follow the proceedings more easily. It even can rise when he stands, no mean feat since he is 6' 9". The sergeant-at-arms has also arranged for live audio-to-test transcription for all the committees on which Fetterman serves. These are needed because the stroke affected his hearing and he is better at reading than listening. Despite these accommodations, his progress is slow. Normally, after someone has had a stroke, doctors tell the patient to take it easy. Being in the bitterly divided United States Senate, meeting with constituents, attending caucus meetings, and much more, is not normally considered taking it easy.

Then last week it got worse. He felt "lightheaded" and checked into George Washington University Hospital for a check up. The doctors there ran a battery of tests on him and didn't find anything, so they discharged him and told him to take it easy. Fat chance.

The effects of these medical issues could be long lasting, but not necessarily in a medical sense. As a senator, Fetterman can count on the best medical care in the country. He is only 53 and has a good chance of a full recovery in time. No, the effects could be political. His ability to win over large numbers of blue-collar workers who voted for Donald Trump could be the magic the Democrats need in the future. If Joe Biden decides at the last minute not to run for reelection, Fetterman would have instantly been one of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination. And even if Biden does run in 2024, Fetterman could have been a top contender in 2028. Unfortunately, these medical incidents are going to be a big problem. Opponents in both parties are going to say: "What if he has another stroke right in the middle of balloongate 264?" No matter how many statements he has from an untold number of medical specialists who have examined him, his health will be a big issue in a national run. (V)

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