Celebrity doctor and Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz was raked over the coals this week for his campaign offering some unsolicited medical advice to his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. In May, Fetterman suffered a stroke from which he, in his words, “almost died.”
“If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly,” said Oz spokeswoman Rachel Tripp in a statement to Business Insider.
The comment came in response to a back-and-forth between the two Senate candidates after Oz published a campaign video complaining about inflation by shopping for “crudité.”
“In PA, we call this a veggie tray,” Fetterman quipped in a follow-up clip.
After the Oz campaign told Fetterman to try a tray, Fetterman fired back in a viral tweet.
“I had a stroke. I survived it. I’m truly grateful to still be here today,” Fetterman responded. “I know politics can be nasty, but even then, I could *never* imagine ridiculing someone for their health challenges.”
Fetterman’s Tuesday post racked up more than 30,000 retweets and nearly a quarter-million “likes.”
“You say this kind of thing when you’re not just losing but facing humiliating overwhelming defeat,” wrote Talking Points Memo Founder Josh Marshall on the Oz campaign comments.
“[A]h, ‘eat your vegetables,’ a notoriously winning campaign slogan in American politics,” wrote Insider’s Walter Hickey.
Maybe it hasn’t been in the past, but maybe now it should be.
First of all, thank God Fetterman is alive. Anyone who wishes death upon their political opponents should reevaluate his own life.
But second, it’s way past time our leaders took more pride in personal health and prioritized clean eating habits, especially as the country continues to ignore the grim lessons from the coronavirus pandemic and adds weight to an already supersized population. Maybe if our politicians placed more value on personal health as a personal responsibility serving as the bedrock of public health to begin with, leaders wouldn’t have impulsively shut down gyms and livelihoods over a virus that disproportionately kills the obese.
By March 2021 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed nearly 80 percent of those hospitalized with the novel coronavirus were either overweight or obese. Yet the latest data from the CDC which leads up to March 2020 shows 42 percent of Americans are categorically obese. As many as 77 percent of U.S. adults are considered, at minimum, overweight. In other words, if you are at a metabolically healthy weight, you are the minority in America.
If nothing else was clear in the aftermath of the pandemic’s worst days, it was that living with Covid as a nation requires confronting obesity. A true health care system is one that is proactive and places a higher emphasis on lifestyles preventing severe outcomes from disease in the first place, as opposed to the incumbent sick care system present in the United States.
A series of studies out this summer revealed the U.S. was in even worse shape headed into the Covid pandemic than previously thought, with just 1 in 5 residents living with “optimal heart health” and only 1 in 7 living with “good cardiometabolic health.”
Heart health and weight control can be radically altered by regular exercise and clean eating. Fetterman admitted to having ignored his own heart condition leading up to an almost fatal stroke.
“Fetterman’s campaign also released a letter from his doctor stating that the candidate has a condition called cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it harder for the heart to deliver blood to the body, but that he will be ‘fine’ if he continues to take his medications, get enough exercise and improve his diet,” reported The Washington Post.
So when Oz’s campaign lectured Fetterman to eat his vegetables, where was the lie? The fact that sound health advice for someone who almost died just months ago was met with such vitriol means Americans haven’t learned much of anything from the pandemic over the last three years.
Moreover, is Fetterman actually healthy? His first public speech since his May stroke raises doubt:
The comments from the Oz campaign may have been snarky, but candidates’ health is also fair game when voters are making decisions about who they want to represent them for years in high office.
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.