Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) was taken to the hospital Wednesday after he felt "lightheaded" and later reported that the speech he was hearing sounded garbled like the teacher from the "Peanuts" cartoons, Breitbart reported. This appears to be a side effect of a stroke he had last May.
"Towards the end of the Senate Democratic Retreat today, Senator John Fetterman began feeling lightheaded," a statement from Fetterman's office explained. "He left and called his staff, who picked him up and drove him to the George Washington University Hospital."
Tests ruled out another stroke, but Communications director Joe Calvello said he was "being monitored with an EEG for signs of seizure" on Thursday. There had been no signs of a seizure by that evening, and Fetterman was discharged.
"John is looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday," Calvello said. However, it's unclear how that will be possible, considering his ongoing issues.
Fetterman experienced a stroke just before the Democratic primary, but he chose to stay the course and clinched the nomination. Throughout the campaign against Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, Fetterman downplayed the effects of his stroke.
He shied away from public appearances and debates until he was pressured into one against Oz just weeks before the election. Using closed captioning, Fetterman was able to eke out a sad performance.
Fox News' Tucker Carlson said his embarrassing showing proved he was unfit for office. "He should not be allowed to operate a microwave oven," Carlson said the day after the debate.
"There is no chance that under any imaginable circumstances, John Fetterman could 'serve in the U.S. Senate.' It's not a close call," Carlson added.
Nevertheless, Fetterman pulled out a decisive win in November and was sworn into office in late January. Now less than a month later, the effects of Fetterman's stroke have become undeniable.
A New York Times report Friday described what Fetterman is experiencing as a "hearing issue" while admitting that it hinders his ability to process speech. "The hearing issues are inconsistent; they often get worse when he is in a stressful or unfamiliar situation," author Annie Karni wrote.
"When it’s bad, Mr. Fetterman has described it as trying to make out the muffled voice of the teacher in the 'Peanuts' cartoon, whose words could never be deciphered," she explained. Fetterman has said his symptoms come from pushing himself too hard during the campaign.
That's in stark contrast to the letter Dr. Clifford Chen, MD provided in October stating Fetterman had "no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office." Notably, Chen had financially contributed to Fetterman's Senate campaign as well as other Democrats.
"His speech was normal, and he continues to exhibit symptoms of auditory processing disorder, which can come across as hearing difficulty," wrote Chen. "Occasional words he will ‘miss’ which seems like he doesn’t hear the word, but it is actually not processed properly."
It's sad to see someone disabled by a stroke, and Fetterman still should be treated with kindness and the dignity he deserves. However, he should not be serving in the U.S. Senate if he can't understand speech when his job involves the language of lawmaking.