Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cancer as a political event

I've been meaning to get to earlier, but I don't think it is any less relevant.

We've had two recent disclosures by highly political figures that they have cancer: Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow.

Elizabeth Edwards is a highly involved member of John Edwards' presidential campaign and possibly the brains to Edwards beauty. She has a major role in the campaign and has promised to continue doing what she has been doing since the beginning of the campaign.

Tony Snow is probably the most high profile member of President Bush's team. His job as press secretary is extremely difficult and stressful. Some have even called it being a human pinata. He deals with a combative press and a quiet White House staff that doesn't tell him much, lest he accidentally spill the beans.

I certainly need to pray for them both, but my purpose is to talk about cancer as a political event. Both had cancer previously and were recovering, but have both been diagnosed with a recurrence. Since stress can cause some cancers to recur and those dealing with treatment are often told to reduce stress, how can these two individual's cancer be reconciled with what they do as a day job?

Are questions about the effect of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer on her husband's duty as president acceptable? How would he deal with a dying wife AND the 24/7 demands of the Presidency? Are questions about the Edwards' family priorities valid questions or sub-human?

What about Tony Snow? When he returns from his treatment, should the press go easier on him because he is recovering? Should President Bush relieve Tony of his duties until he is free and clear (in which case, that would be after the Bush Presidency) in order to extend his life?

Normally, personal medical conditions are way out of bounds for discussion as effecting one's job and lifestyle. However, are politicians, as our representatives, excused from normal conventions? We already dissect their love lives, religious inclinations, and financial dealings. Is discussing cancer as a political event the next logical step?