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Uncovered, Part II: Brain Food

The Trump-Lecter story was not the only one that got a lot of headlines last week, and that we declined to write up. There was also the story about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the supposed worm that he claims ate part of his brain.

So, why did we initially take a pass on this one? A few reasons. First, who knows if it's true? We have no doubt that at some time in the past, Junior had health problems, and the possibility of a brain worm was mentioned. Was it more than that, though? Was he actually diagnosed? Treated? His narrative doesn't especially line up with an actual case of neurocysticercosis, and he has a well-established history of blending fact and fantasy when it comes to medicine. Unless he releases some actual medical records, then this is nothing more than another tall tale.

Second, the angle that a great many outlets took was "Ha, ha! OF COURSE something ate part of Kennedy's brain!" This seemed in poor taste to us, even on Saturday Night Live, where boundary-pushing comedy is their stock in trade. If he really was stricken in this way, it's sad, not funny. And there are certainly other people out there who definitely have been stricken, and who don't need to feel their illness is being made the butt of jokes.

Finally, does it matter? As with Trump, it's evident to anyone who has listened to RFK Jr. talk that there's something off there, cognitively. Does knowing the root cause, or the potential root cause, really change anything? Either way he's a fellow who peddles dangerous conspiracy theories and dangerous quack medical ideas, and who has profited from that.

All of this said, there is one angle that is worth bringing up, which is why we finally decided to note this story. Given the demands of the presidency, not to mention the frequency with which physical/mental health concerns become campaign issues, it sure would be nice if candidates were required to submit complete medical records in order to be eligible for federal office. This would be none too easy a change to make, since it would surely require a constitutional amendment, and since it would be hard to design a system that could not be gamed by "friendly" doctors (e.g., Donald Trump and Dr. Harold Bornstein). But it's not insurmountable, we think, and could plausibly attract bipartisan support. Though it might struggle to get through the Senate, where the average age is currently 64.3 years old. (Z)

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