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Senator John Fetterman hospitalized

By Sarah May on
 February 10, 2023

Just over a month after being sworn in as a U.S. senator, Democrat John Fetterman (PA) was hospitalized on Wednesday after experiencing lightheadedness at a legislative retreat, and according to NBC News, he remained at the George Washington University Hospital for a second night so that he could be monitored for seizures.

The situation raised particular concerns given the fact that Fetterman suffered a stroke in May of last year which took a significant toll on his speech and language processing capabilities and sparked intense debate about his fitness to serve in the office he ultimately claimed.

Fetterman hospitalized

A Fetterman spokesperson revealed Thursday evening that the senator's doctors have determined that he did not experience another stroke prior to his Wednesday hospitalization.

Joe Calvello of Fetterman's team wrote on Twitter that the lawmaker “received the results of his MRI. According to John's doctors at the George Washington University Hospital, the results of the MRI, along with the results of all of the other tests the doctors ran, rule out a new stroke.”

Calvello added, however that the senator was still “being monitored with an EEG for signs of seizure – so far there are no signs of seizure, but he is still being monitored,” adding to the rationale for keeping him in the hospital for a second night.

The aide also noted that the 53-year-old Fetterman was “in good spirits and talking with his staff and family,” as he continued to undergo tests and further observation, though he did not offer any indication of when the senator might leave the hospital.

Concerning past

It was back in May that Fetterman announced that he had experienced a stroke, posting on Twitter that doctors succeeded in removing the problematic clot and reversing its progression, adding that they “got [his] heart under control,” as CBS News noted at the time.

Fetterman also stated that doctors informed him that he suffered no cognitive damage as a result of the stroke, adding, “I'm well on my way to a full recovery.”

Those representations were repeatedly echoed by supporters during Fetterman's 2022 campaign against his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and the Democrat went so far as to secure a statement from Dr. Clifford Chen of Duquesne, Pennsylvania, declaring that the liberal candidate had “no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

In support of that assertion, Chen said that Fetterman was “recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve,” adding that the candidate “spoke intelligently without cognitive deficits” during a visit the two shared.

Cognitive red flags

However, as the campaign drew to a close, Fetterman's appearances in interviews as well as in a televised debate with Oz, suggested to many that perhaps not everyone in the Senate hopeful's camp had been entirely candid about the stroke's lingering effects on his capabilities.

An October interview with NBC's Dasha Burns revealed the extent of the challenges Fetterman continued to face, with the interviewer later explaining, “We had a monitor set up so that he could read my questions because he still has lingering auditory processing issues as a result of the stroke, which means he has a hard time understanding what he's hearing.”

Burns added, “in some of the small talk prior to the interview, before the closed captioning was up and running, it did seem that he had a hard time understanding our conversation.”

The single debate with Oz to which Fetterman agreed also required him to receive closed-caption transcription of the moderators' questions, and despite that accommodation, the night proved disastrous due to the candidate's gaffes, confused pauses, malapropisms, and generally confused appearance, something even renowned Democratic strategist David Axelrod admitted, saying, “Fetterman needed to show he's sufficiently recovered, and this debate surely did not help.”

Skepticism persists

Last fall, critics slammed the extent to which Fetterman's backers and the mainstream media went to conceal the candidate's ongoing health and cognitive concerns from the public, only giving voters a glimpse of the truth well after early balloting had long since commenced.

The New York Post editorial board suggested that “Democrats are so cynical that they'd elect anyone, in any medical condition, so long as it gives them the majority. And they'll play Three-card Monte with 'democracy' to hide the truth from voters.”

Commentator John Podhoretz opined that Fetterman's continued presence in the race last fall was “an act of political and ideological malpractice because he and his team have left Democratic voters with no option other than to close their eyes to what they saw and vote for someone who should not be in the Senate – or to vote for his rival. Or not to vote at all.

While millions of Americans surely join Republican Sen. Tim Scott (SC) in his Thursday request for prayers and support on behalf of his colleague and sincere hope for a robust recovery, the blatant obfuscations about Fetterman's health over the past year have planted serious seeds of doubt about what his camp is now asking Americans to believe about his present condition.