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

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Cases: 547101

Reported Deaths: 7056
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1139831672
Ramsey47188850
Dakota41764418
Anoka37816415
Washington24550273
Stearns20738218
St. Louis16572296
Scott15682117
Wright14561125
Olmsted1264796
Sherburne1037380
Carver964944
Clay773889
Rice7506101
Blue Earth687340
Kandiyohi622679
Crow Wing603586
Chisago541549
Otter Tail537473
Benton524597
Mower448632
Douglas437270
Winona436649
Goodhue435371
Nobles397848
Morrison389159
McLeod385754
Beltrami369257
Isanti367559
Itasca362552
Polk359866
Steele354614
Becker349348
Lyon345048
Carlton325352
Freeborn323629
Pine307521
Nicollet303242
Brown292239
Mille Lacs274849
Le Sueur267622
Todd266430
Cass245926
Meeker230337
Waseca228720
Martin210729
Wabasha19903
Roseau194818
Hubbard169241
Dodge16914
Renville169143
Redwood164835
Houston162014
Cottonwood154120
Fillmore15109
Pennington149019
Chippewa144236
Faribault142419
Wadena142021
Sibley134010
Aitkin127536
Kanabec126821
Watonwan12509
Rock121818
Jackson115410
Yellow Medicine109819
Pipestone108825
Murray10189
Pope9946
Swift98018
Marshall84717
Stevens79910
Lake77919
Koochiching76412
Wilkin76312
Clearwater76114
Lac qui Parle73422
Big Stone5564
Lincoln5562
Grant5428
Norman5169
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48278
Kittson46122
Red Lake3827
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2983
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 356437

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55735598
Linn20229329
Scott18871234
Black Hawk15498306
Woodbury14858219
Johnson1395580
Dubuque13097202
Dallas1086796
Pottawattamie10668160
Story1027747
Warren552386
Clinton535489
Cerro Gordo520486
Webster507691
Sioux504873
Marshall476674
Muscatine456896
Des Moines440465
Wapello4250120
Buena Vista421440
Jasper407370
Plymouth395979
Lee367255
Marion354275
Jones292755
Henry286037
Bremer278560
Carroll278550
Crawford261739
Boone257231
Benton249555
Washington249149
Dickinson240443
Mahaska223849
Jackson217842
Kossuth212362
Clay209325
Tama206571
Delaware202039
Winneshiek193733
Page190320
Buchanan188131
Cedar183123
Fayette182841
Hardin179242
Wright179135
Hamilton177749
Harrison175273
Clayton166455
Butler162334
Mills158120
Cherokee156638
Floyd155042
Lyon154041
Madison153019
Poweshiek152333
Allamakee149051
Iowa145124
Hancock143334
Winnebago135731
Grundy135032
Cass134454
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet128240
Shelby127137
Sac126619
Appanoose126547
Louisa126349
Mitchell125241
Union123932
Chickasaw122515
Humboldt118026
Guthrie117328
Franklin112521
Palo Alto110121
Howard102622
Unassigned10010
Montgomery100037
Clarke98023
Keokuk94330
Monroe93428
Ida89233
Adair84232
Pocahontas83221
Monona80930
Davis79924
Greene76410
Lucas74922
Osceola74716
Worth7058
Taylor65112
Fremont61210
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53522
Wayne51923
Audubon4949
Adams3274
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