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Bernie Sanders' heart attack raises questions

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack, his campaign confirmed after he departed Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Posted: Oct 5, 2019 5:10 PM
Updated: Oct 5, 2019 5:10 PM

We've recently learned two things about Bernie Sanders: that he had a heart attack, and that he was not immediately forthcoming with the news. I wouldn't go so far to call this a "cover-up," not in the Age of Trump, where an entire presidency is a cover-up. But it's dismaying, as it feels like political "business as usual" for Bernie to lack transparency, even for a few days, and even under these vulnerable conditions.

Bernie is my senator, a fellow Vermonter. (Like most people around here, I call him Bernie.) I've been a supporter since he ran for mayor in Burlington some 30 years ago. In my view, no American politician has done more to advance progressive causes in the United States, pushing the Democrats from terrified middle-of-the-road positions on health care and economic inequality to a place we never dreamed we'd see in this lifetime.

He has spoken loudly for the poor, the disenfranchised. He was an early opponent of the Iraq War, unlike Joe Biden. He has a strong grasp of the existential threat posed by climate change.

But the heart attack is now a political problem — for him and the Democrats. It may not be possible for Bernie to continue pushing himself in the way he'd have to push himself to be nominated and to beat Donald Trump.

And beating Trump has become a national emergency. As recent weeks have shown, Trump is dangerously out of touch with reality, with no understanding of the constitutional separation of powers. Trump's behavior with regard to Ukraine (which is likely the tip of a proverbial iceberg) — and more blatantly, his invitation to China to interfere in America's election — makes it clear that he is willing to upend the democratic process itself, OUR democratic process, using his vast authority solely for his own, personal benefit.

It goes without saying that he should be removed from office, but the Republican propaganda machine is working overtime, and millions of people seem happy to yield their fundamental rights as Americans to this one man.

Trump needs a strong Democratic opponent, one who is up to a blistering task. I wish to God Bernie were 68 and not 78, and that his health was better.

I write this having spent a day this week at the hospital, undergoing an angiogram myself because a sibling had a heart attack a few weeks ago, and I've had a worrying breathlessness. The details are unimportant to anyone outside my immediate circle of family and friends, but let's just say I have a renewed sense of human vulnerability. The cardiologist came into the antechamber to the operating room before my procedure and said, "You have two things going against you. You're male, and you're over 70."

I admit to both. (My angiogram, for the record, showed clear arteries.) But I must admit to my own sense of fragility as a human being. I may well continue to work and live well for another couple of decades. And I hope very much that Bernie Sanders recovers well and continues to speak up for the disadvantaged for decades to come. We've seen US senators who have continued into their 80s and 90s to provide useful wisdom and perspective. As a nation, we really must learn to treasure our experience. As we read in Psalm 90:12: "Teach us to number our days, so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom."

But youth — even relative youth — is precious, and whoever is president of this country after Trump's disastrous years will have unbelievable demands on his or her body and soul. Trump, by the way is 73. Joe Biden is 76.

Elizabeth Warren turned 70 a few months ago, with the inherent advantage my doctor spoke of: she's a woman.

I personally hope that Bernie has the wisdom to accept that he has already won. His arguments are now central planks in the Democratic debates, and there is a vast progressive movement that he has fathered. May he get well and continue for years to be a force for change.

Yet it may be time for Bernie to say, with nobility and generosity: "I now support Elizabeth Warren. She is a warrior for good, and she's in better health than I am. Together we can make America truly great in ways previously unimaginable."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609810

Reported Deaths: 7746
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1263481799
Ramsey53049910
Dakota47251475
Anoka43239465
Washington27676296
Stearns22670227
St. Louis18260319
Scott17701139
Wright16528153
Olmsted13517103
Sherburne1213096
Carver1074649
Clay829692
Rice8252111
Blue Earth770744
Crow Wing688599
Kandiyohi670085
Chisago627054
Otter Tail590687
Benton585398
Goodhue485674
Douglas478481
Mower477633
Winona463752
Itasca462768
Isanti446066
McLeod434361
Morrison427962
Beltrami410263
Nobles410050
Steele400819
Polk390872
Becker389357
Lyon365254
Carlton356958
Freeborn351134
Pine337623
Nicollet334245
Mille Lacs314956
Brown308840
Le Sueur299727
Cass288233
Todd288233
Meeker266044
Waseca240823
Martin237033
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198041
Dodge18973
Renville183446
Redwood178141
Houston175516
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165023
Fillmore159210
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Swift107518
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84520
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48293
Red Lake4037
Traverse3825
Lake of the Woods3484
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
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