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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Janison: Useless to link Hillary Rodham Clinton's health, 2016

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to reporters during a joint news conference with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. (July 24, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Doctors are now saying that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should make a full recovery from the blood clot for which she's been hospitalized.

But before venturing to guess how this may or may not affect a supposed 2016 presidential candidacy, remember that all speculation this far in advance -- medical or political -- has a way of proving so unsound as to be useless.

For months, pundit parlor games in the region have included Clinton 2016 talk, Cuomo 2016 talk, Cuomo versus Clinton 2016 talk, and Cuomo-or-Clinton versus Chris Christie 2016 talk.

It all sounds sensible -- until you remember that in 2005, 2006 and 2007, then-Sen. Clinton was rated as the sure favorite for the 2008 Democratic nomination. She sought it but lost.

Sen. John McCain in 2005 was deemed a strong choice for the 2008 Republican nomination. That did happen -- but only after a point along the way when the McCain campaign appeared very down and nearly out.

Then there was ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Some people in 2007 actually saw him as a potential 2012 presidential candidate -- before the Manhattan Democrat's public career ended in a sudden and surprising prostitution scandal.

Clinton has said she won't run for public office again. But one New York Democrat who did not want to be identified insists he is convinced that she and former President Bill Clinton have been working to build up goodwill in the national party for 2016. So the guessing goes on.

Nobody really knows what he or she will be ready to face in 2016.

Physical issues do affect political images and perceptions. That's why campaigns like to advertise candidates' good medical reports.

If Clinton ends up with a clean bill of health, her recent medical adventure could be largely forgotten in a year -- barring rivals' spin and speculation.

Men have run on national tickets despite health issues. Vice President Dick Cheney had a long and serious cardiac history. The late Sen. Paul Tsongas had non-Hodgkins lymphoma before seeking the presidency in 1992 (he died in 1997). McCain's history of melanomas drew discussion in the 2008 race.

The connection between Clinton's health and the politics of perception played itself out in the form of Washington, D.C., chatter. She was scheduled to testify on Dec. 15 before Senate and House committees on the fatal U.S. Embassy fiasco in Benghazi. But that appearance was canceled after Clinton reportedly got a stomach virus, fainted and hit her head, resulting in a concussion.

Commentators made clashing guesses of how ill she really was. Then came word this week that the Secretary of State had been admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to treat what MRIs showed to be a blood clot near her right ear. Such clots can be life-threatening if not treated in time.

By Monday doctors gave their upbeat, confident-of-full-recovery statement. Also Monday, departing Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said in a news conference: "Secretary Clinton has made clear that she will testify [on Benghazi] and I think that's a good idea."

Hmmm, Lieberman. He generated lots of early buzz as a 2004 presidential candidate. Remember?

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