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January 2, 2013 12:30 PM

Shame on pundits for mocking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's head injuries

Posted by Thanh Tan

The pundits making a mockery of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's head injuries ought to be ashamed of themselves. These commentators contend Clinton is offering excuses to avoid tough questions over the deadly September attack on a U.S. consulate office in Libya.

Politics is ugly, but it shouldn't devolve into the kind vile comments we've heard recently in conservative circles and in these Fox News clips compiled by Media Matters, a progressive watchdog group.

On Dec. 17, Fox News contributor John Bolton accused Clinton of feigning "diplomatic illness." One day later, the New York Post published a headline calling her condition a "head fake."On the air, Charles Krauthammer and Sean Hannity have joked about Clinton's "acute Benghazi allergy." Outgoing Congressman Allen West, R-Florida, said, "I’m not a doctor, but it seems as though - that the Secretary of State has come down with a case of Benghazi flu."

Do these guys realize how ridiculous they sound? No. Not at all. The Hillary-haters are eating up this vitriol. (See this compilation of comments by Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski)

The latest reports indicate the nation's top diplomat has been diagnosed with a blood clot following a concussion she suffered before Christmas. The head injury occurred while she was recovering from a stomach virus.

If there's something that's not right here, it's not the fact that Clinton has had to postpone her appearance before Congress to testify on the September attacks.

What's more strange is that one of the most visible women in the world is suddenly out of sight. Clinton hasn't made a public appearance since Dec. 7. That's highly unusual for a seasoned politician who has traveled to a record 112 countries during her tenure as secretary of state.

Clinton's popularity is unprecedented. She already is considered a front-runner for the 2016 presidential election. Why would she shun the spotlight? Especially after she accepted responsibility last October for diplomatic security failures? (Back then, critics accused her of falling on the political sword for President Obama ahead of the general election.)

Set aside petty politics for a moment. I'm concerned that Clinton's experienced voice is missing from a number of national and international dialogues unfolding worldwide.

Last weekend, a 23-year-old Indian student died from injuries sustained after she was brutally gang-raped on a public bus. This awful story has morphed into an international cry to end sexual violence against women.

I believe that if she were not held back by illness this week, Clinton would have weighed in on this call for change. The former first lady has long championed causes that empower women.

The only person at Fox News who seems to understand the limits of poking fun at someone else's illness is Greta van Susteren. In her blog on Dec. 19, the anchor wrote, "[Clinton] has never shied away from a fight (assuming the testimony would even amount to that), she has never declined to testify before in her decades of public service … and very significantly she has agreed to testify in January so they will hear from her."

Clinton isn't well enough to defend herself. When a few pundits accuse the the nation's top foreign policy official of faking illness — it's an embarrassment to the United States and its interests abroad.

My father once suffered a blot clot in his back of his head. It was a scary time for our family. Doctors operated immediately. He was hospitalized. It took weeks for him to recover from the surgery. He was given time to recover and get healthy before he returned to work.

Hillary Clinton should be afforded the same basic dignity.

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