As we noted earlier this week, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) had to check into the hospital last weekend due to lightheadedness. There was concern that he might be experiencing further neurological problems due to the stroke he had during the 2022 campaign, but doctors gave him a clean bill of health and sent him home.
As of Wednesday, he's back in the hospital. This time, the issue is a "severe" flare-up of clinical depression. According to a statement from his office, he's wrestled with this issue throughout his adult life, but got to the point of requiring intervention sometime in the past couple of weeks. So, to the hospital he went.
It seems plain to us that for the Senator to recognize he needs help, and for him to have the courage to go get that help, and for him to have the transparency to tell the truth about what is going on are three rather major points in his favor. And, to their credit, his Democratic colleagues see it the same way, and have rallied around him. "Happy to hear @SenFettermanPA is getting the help he needs and deserves. Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), "I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon." Other Democratic senators shared similar sentiments.
That said, most readers know that mental health issues forced Thomas Eagleton off the Democratic ticket in 1972. Today, American society isn't that much better when it comes to stigmatizing those with mental health challenges. And, at the same time there are many political actors willing to exploit any angle of attack they can find. So, it's not exactly a surprise that, for example, last night's Fox programming was full of cheap shots at the Senator's expense. Laura Ingraham, who must have gotten a Ph.D. in psychology while we weren't looking, was particularly outspoken; her expert diagnosis is that this is all the fault of Fetterman's wife Gisele, who apparently pushed him to run for the Senate when he did not wish to do so. Ingraham then compared Giselle Fetterman to Lady Macbeth, which is certainly very... literary. That said, does anyone really think that the Fox host has read the play? Or even the SparkNotes for the play? Or anything more challenging than one of those little pieces of paper inside of fortune cookies?
Of course, Fetterman has about 5 years before he has to face voters again, assuming he stands for reelection. And that is presumably plenty of time to put this in the rearview mirror, and to demonstrate to the world that he's well. For now, we extend our best wishes for a full recovery. (Z)