So, is there anything interesting in John McCain's pre-Memorial Day Friday morning document dump of his medical records to select journalistic institutions? Your mileage may vary, but for me it's not breaking news that this is one pretty old, formerly hard-livin' dude who has already outlived his hard-livin' father and grandfather, whose mom and her twin sister look primed to reach 100, and who has an extraordinary amount of energy, arthritis from all the war injuries, and various lesions and polyps in remission/excision. He seems almost exactly as mentally alert as a career politician in his eighth decade of constantly being around people except when frantically gobbling up books, which is to say he'll repeat a joke or two, and maybe flub a warring faction, but otherwise seems "normal." How he'll age is way near the bottom on my List of Things to Be Concerned About. Though I did enjoy this Escher-like Media Matters headline: "Media forecast successful McCain effort to manipulate media on medical records."
A couple of meta-media items did jump out at me from the Associated Press' clean bill of health:
Given McCain's fair skin and history of sunburns, mostly from the 5 1/2 years he was held outdoors while in Vietnamese prison camps, he has a 5 percent to 8 percent chance of developing a fifth melanoma, Lessin calculated.
First I ever heard of that explanation. The traditional story ? told in McCain's own books, and all the biographies of him ? is that he fried his skin to a crisp on his first congressional campaign in Arizona, walking door to door in his carpetbagged district for 27 hours a day, wearing out shoes and failing to heed Baz Luhrmann's advice. I initially mocked David Brock and Paul Waldman for complaining about the media constantly bringing up McCain's Vietnam experience apropos of nothing, but in this case their critique might be justified.
Then there's this:
His likely Democratic rival, Barack Obama, will be 47 in August. Obama, lean and agile and a frequent basketball player, says he has quit smoking. Neither he nor Democratic opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton has released health records.
Only one point here: Did you know that John McCain was a smoker until around age 45? It almost never gets mentioned.
Finally, there was a detail I had not fully realized before, from a good 2007 L.A. Times piece on McCain's health I just re-read:
McCain released extensive medical records when he sought the presidency in 2000, including reports of his periodic examinations at the Robert E. Mitchell Center for Prisoner of War Studies at the Naval Operational Medicine Institute in Pensacola, Fla. Those reports indicated that McCain was in generally good health and did not suffer any psychological illness.
Dr. Bob Hain, director of the study program, said McCain was examined almost every year until 1994, when he stopped returning to the voluntary program.
I had not grokked that McCain stopped getting his noggin' routinely probed by the POW docs 14 years ago, and in fact I probably said on some radio show or two ? in defense of John McCain! ? that they inspect his psyche constantly and he's as fine as any ambition-crazed politician can be. I presume that's still the case, only without the supporting data.
Things younger than McCain here.