Update: On Friday, NBC News spoke with the doctor who issued Trump's letter. At the very least, he confirmed our diagnosis that Trumpitis is contagious. See update to our original story from December 2015 below.
Donald Trump released a note from his personal physician on Monday that assessed the candidate's health in positively Trumpian terms.
Trump's recent lab tests were "astonishingly excellent," said Harold Bornstein, a gastroenterologist on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His recent examination showed "only positive results." His strength and stamina are "extraordinary." His cardiovascular system is "excellent," and he has "no history" of drinking or smoking.
What's more, Bornstein writes, "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."
Clearly, Trump's hyperbole is itself a disease — and it's contagious.
A lot of the claims in Bornstein's note are a doctor's effusive analysis of his patient. (Bear in mind that it does Bornstein some good to have the world's most flawless patient.) But that last one, about the other presidents, is positively baffling.
Update: Here's how Bornstein described the process of writing the letter to NBC. "Bornstein said that after he was asked to write the letter, he thought about what he would say all day but did not type it out until the last minute as a black car sent by Trump waited to collect it," NBC's Chris Francescani reported. "He said he didn't even proofread it."
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) August 26, 2016
In 2008, Barack Obama released the results of his own physical. Obama was 46 at the time, a quarter-century younger than Trump. Although Obama smoked infrequently, his blood pressure was 90 over 60, a bit lower than Trump's. (In August, Trump bragged that his doctor said he had the blood pressure of "a great athlete.") Obama's doctor didn't portray his lab tests as "astonishing," but then most doctors don't use such verbiage.
In 1994, the late medical doctor John Bumgarner wrote a book called "The Health of the Presidents," which looked at the physical health of each president through Bill Clinton. Many of those diagnoses, based on contemporaneous reports and diaries, are collected at DoctorZebra.com, a website run by a pseudonymous medical doctor.
We're familiar with some of the more prominent presidential ailments: John Kennedy suffered from Addison's disease and polio was diagnosed in Franklin Roosevelt when he was 39. But other presidents had a slew of illnesses, too, partly because of the eras in which they lived.
George Washington had malaria. Harry Truman had cardiac asthma. John Tyler had dysentery. Woodrow Wilson suffered strokes. Some presidents, we will hasten to point out, didn’t really have many notable health issues at all. Jimmy Carter, now 91, suffered from nothing worse than hemorrhoids.
But a lot of what we know about the presidents' health is a function of their having been president. Historians poring over their records, such as Truman's diary about his heart condition, revealed conditions only decades later. Would the same doctor who called Trump's tests "extraordinary" be inclined to gloss over some of the more minor ailments that are worth including in a presidential history? That is left as an exercise to the reader.
For the most part, these reports are pro forma, simply meant to reassure people that the person elected president won't drop dead in 30 days, William Henry Harrison-style. But for Trump, it was clearly an opportunity to reinforce a narrative: Trump as biggest and best of all time.
We reached out to Bornstein to ask how he felt so confident in his historic comparison. We have not heard back.
Interestingly, Trump's website invites people to view the health records "written by the highly respected Dr. Jacob Bornstein." Jacob Bornstein is the father of Harold Bornstein who, the younger doctor notes, has been treating Trump since 1980.
The strength of Trump's memory is not mentioned in the medical report.