Gallery: What Happens When The President Get Sick, Or Worse?
They may have the best health care on the planet available to them, but there's only so much a doctor or nurse can do. It's a big deal when the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, gets sick.
Forget the current political climate. This applies to all presidents. When the most powerful person in the world is not 100%, it matters. The discussion became relevant again when President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus early today, and again later this afternoon when the President was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center "as a precaution".
First of all, you have to assume for now, that it is just a precautionary measure. But we've seen this happen before in American history, where maybe the public wasn't always told the whole truth, or even any of it. Plus, the TV series The West Wing educated many of us to the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
The 25th amendment can be used for any number of reasons, especially something routine like a colonoscopy, where it's just for matter of hours. But the 25th amendment came about only after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
More than a few times, we've had seriously ill presidents. President William Henry Harrison got sick at his inauguration. He died of either typhoid, pneumonia, or paratyphoid fever 31 days into his term, becoming the first president to die in office and the shortest-serving president in U.S. history. (Here's some odd trivia. Successor John Tyler's grandsons are still living.)
Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley were assassinated before John Kennedy. Presidents Truman, Ford and Reagan had attempts made on their lives. After he was out of office, but running again, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the mid-section, but kept giving his speech for another half hour.
Grover Cleveland had throat cancer but finished his term. Warren Harding started having abdominal pains, but "the press was told Harding had experienced an "acute gastrointestinal attack". He died of cardiac arrest.
President Woodrow Wilson had a massive stroke during his second term of office, and his second wife, Edith, whom he married while in office, became the de facto president. But the public never knew this.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was afflicted with polio before becoming president, but he and his advisors didn't believe a person in wheelchair could elected and with tacit help of the press, Roosevelt was almost never photographed in either a wheelchair or with his leg braces.
Also, FDR was the longest serving president, and the strain of the job including World War II aged him, and he died while in office of a cerebral hemorrhage.
World War II hero, General Dwight David Eisenhower had stomach surgery in office and also suffered two heart attacks, but except for his age, seemed fine when he left office in 1961.
You never wish poor health on anyone. But there is a history of it, in the office.