Former Bush official explains why 'smug and smarmy' Dr. Oz 'fears' John Fetterman

Former Bush official explains why 'smug and smarmy' Dr. Oz 'fears' John Fetterman

With the Tuesday, November 8 election less than a week away, Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race continues to be a major nail-biter. Some polls are showing the Democratic nominee, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, slightly ahead, while others are showing his GOP opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, with a slight lead.

Countless pundits predicted that Fetterman’s performance during a debate with Oz in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 25 would hurt his campaign; Fetterman is still recovering from the effects of a stroke he suffered back in May. Yet a Fox News poll released on November 3 showed Fetterman with a 4 percent lead over Oz, and a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on November 2 showed Fetterman ahead by 2 percent. Meanwhile, a Susquehanna poll released on November 2 showed Fetterman trailing Oz by 1 percent.

Many MAGA Republicans haven’t been shy about mocking Fetterman and saying that the effects of his stroke make him unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate, while Fetterman’s supporters have argued that his willingness to debate Oz despite the stroke showed courage, guts and character — qualities that are badly needed in Congress.

READ MORE: John Fetterman showed 'courage' and a 'more humane way forward' in Senate debate: editorial

Kristofer Harrison, who served in the U.S. State Dept. as well as the U.S. Defense Department under President George W. Bush, analyzes Oz’s reactions to Fetterman’s stroke in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on November 3. Oz, Harrison argues, is intimidated by Fetterman’s willingness to keep campaigning despite the stroke.

“Throughout his campaign,” Harrison writes, “Oz has sought to turn John Fetterman’s stroke into a political millstone. That’s because he does not want you to know what he knows: John Fetterman’s ability to recover from a stroke while running a top-notch campaign — all with happy-warrior aplomb — is nothing short of incredible. Oz’s criticisms of Fetterman speak of a fear of Fetterman’s drive. Oz sees that drive, and it has Oz spooked.”

Harrison continues, “Traumatic brain injury is no joke. Aside from those who have suffered a brain injury, only medical professionals understand what recovery entails. Only this small subset of the population, which includes Oz, understands the hell of temporarily living inside a mind that refuses to obey you. Oz may be a quack, but he’s still a doctor. He knows what this stroke has told people about Fetterman’s character. And it scares him.”

Harrison knows from first-hand experience what it’s like to suffer a stroke.

READ MORE: John Fetterman and the last consequence-free stigma: How Mehmet Oz weaponized ableism

“I had two strokes as a result of a neck injury, and words cannot begin to capture the mental challenge,”
the Bush-era conservative explains. “People grasp the physical challenge. It’s visible. But the mental challenge requires the focus and forbearance of a monk.”

Although Harrison is conservative, his admiration for the liberal Fetterman is obvious in his article.

“It astonishes me that Fetterman has a reserve of strength to do the rehab work and hit the campaign trail,” Harrison writes. “Frankly, it blows me away. Despite the fact that Oz had a national TV show and a career launched by Oprah, despite the former president endorsing him, despite Republicans showering the Pennsylvania race with cash, and despite the political environment greatly favoring the Republicans — John Fetterman has fought Oz to a statistical dead heat for a seat that has been in GOP hands since 1981. And he’s done it all while recovering from a stroke.”

Harrison continues, “I am certain that John Fetterman and I disagree on most political issues, but the man has my respect. And even if he doesn’t have your vote, he deserves your respect, too. He has the kind of moxie that we want in the political arena…. What’s the opposite of Fetterman’s moxie? A smug and smarmy Dr. Mehmet Oz who fears Fetterman. Republicans are worse off when the man they choose to represent them isn’t big enough to respect what his opponent brings to the table.”

READ MORE: Critics blast Herschel Walker supporters' hypocritical 'ableist' attacks on John Fetterman

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