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John McCain and his 'unremarkable' buttocks

May 23, 2008 | 11:55 am

First, we have to start with this reasoned medical opinion buried deep in John McCain's medical files, released for review earlier today. From his oncologist, Dr. Suzanne Connolly of the Mayo Clinic:  "Buttocks unremarkable except for some very light tan freckling." That noise you hear? A massive "thank you" from Jon Stewart's writers.

On a more serious tack, the way the records were made available to reporters wasn't exactly a "release." It was more an environment of controlled access at the Copperwynd Resort and Club in Fountain Hills, Ariz., limited to a handful of media, none of whom were allowed to make copies. From the pool report just disseminated (by Michael D. Shear of the Washington Post):

About 20 reporters -- including CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman -- were allowed to enter a room at the resort in the back of the Alchemy restaurant. We were allowed in at 7:30 and given three hours to review the records and take notes. Most reporters used computers to take notes from the three stacks of documents that were provided to each of them. The main stack, labeled "Records from Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2000-present" were the main documents and are summarized below. The other two stacks were backup documents, including handwritten notes, lab results and insurance documents. In all it was 1,173 pages, in addition to 1,500 pages distributed the last time he ran for president.

The backup stacks included the statement of financial responsibility, assignment of benefits and authorization to release information, forwarded documents from the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, including lab results, clinical notes, pathology reports. Insurance details, doctor's orders and anesthesia reports. The documents went into great detail about his operations to remove melanomas and colon polyps.

While the records seemed to be comprehensive, a three-hour review by pooled media isn't exactly a full release. (At least they had a chance to eat: "It was a cloudy day of about 56 degrees and we were given fruit, bagels and some muffins, along with some nicely sculpted mounds of cream cheese. No one ate anything, as far as I could tell.")

Add that controlled environment, though, to the financial records McCain has made available, and there are some pretty significant questions about a McCain administration's approach to openness -- especially against the backdrop of the Bush administration, which has shown a penchant for secrecy.

ADDED NOTE: We've e-mailed the Barack Obama campaign about when his records will be available. Will update when we hear.

UPDATE: From Bill Burton, Obama spokesman: "We'll put out a summary early next week." Note that he says a "summary" will be released. So while Obama seems to have revealed more of his family financial records than McCain, it looks like Obama will be revealing less of his medical records. Unless there isn't anything to reveal (McCain, given his age and experiences, obviously has had a lot going on). So we'll have to be patient and see what the Obama "summary" contains.

Also, for those of you who missed the other coverage (there have been comments to that effect), we blogged about this earlier and our colleague Maeve Reston has a full story elsewhere on the site.

-- Scott Martelle

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