THE PRESIDENT'S cholesterol level is 223. He weighs 239 pounds. He takes a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and, though he is in decent health for someone his age, he should exercise more. These findings are unremarkable — except that they represent an unusual, and welcome, moment of transparency from a White House that routinely ducks rudimentary standards of disclosure.
President Trump was under no legal obligation to submit to a physical examination, let alone to release the results. But he followed bipartisan tradition by doing both. The physical was administered not by a kooky gastroenterologist but a respected Navy doctor who also cared for President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump even exceeded previous presidential practice. He volunteered for a cognitive exam in response to questions about his mental health, and he released those results along with everything else. He also sent his doctor into the White House briefing room to answer questions in an open-ended session with reporters.
In the distant past, presidents covered up major — even incapacitating — health problems, leaving the public unaware of ailments that directly affected the conduct of public business. Mr. Trump more than did his part to preserve the expectation that presidents will no longer leave Americans in the dark.
More good news is that Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the presidential physician, described a man whose health, while not stellar, is like that of many 71-year-old Americans. Mr. Trump could stand to lose some weight, exercise, eat better and watch his cholesterol. Though Dr. Jackson's prediction that Mr. Trump would be able to serve out eight years without serious medical issues must be taken with caution, the conclusion that the president does not appear to be at high risk of a serious near-term health event is welcome. Some debate has erupted about how others would describe the health of someone with Mr. Trump's profile. Now that it is informed rather than speculative, that is a good thing.
Even so, this moment of norm-following was preceded by many more of norm-breaking. Mr. Trump's transparency on health puts into sharp relief his disdain for disclosure in other realms, particularly in his financial affairs. This begins with his resolute refusal to release any of his tax returns, past or present, despite decades of bipartisan agreement that presidents and candidates for president should reveal at least as much about their financial dealings as their tax forms describe.
As a man who built his reputation on business, rather than in public affairs, Mr. Trump should have, from the beginning, been upfront about his business successes — and failures — and the manner in which he conducted his private enterprises. A unique politician who entered office with a vast and complex business network, from which he refused to divest, he also owed the public a full accounting of all the financial conflicts of interest he brought to the job. Instead, he has been on these matters the least transparent president in decades.