Voters may need to be reminded, says Brands, that presidential candidates are human, a package of both good and bad—health histories included. McCain can take inspiration from Jackson, he says, who though beset by illness and considered old for his time, "was clearheaded and forceful until the last day of his presidency." But there's little doubt that what McCain's new medical records reveal and whether youth will be a quality he seeks in a vice president will both prove crucial to the case he'll make to the demanding American people about his own health and ability to serve. A case that becomes even more critical with 46-year-old Barack Obama as the Democratic front-runner.
With Stephanie Salmon