inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Fetterman’s ‘Borderline Incoherent’ Performance in Committee Hearing Raises Concerns

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman’s stammering, unsteady delivery during a Senate Committee hearing — and media attempts to cover it up —  are raising questions once again about the Democrat’s ability to fulfill his duties, with one commentator labeling his performance “borderline incoherent.”

Fetterman was participating in a Senate Banking Committee hearing, where former Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker was answering questions about his institution’s collapse.

According to The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, Fetterman said at one point, “Shouldn’t you have a working requirement after we bail out your bank? Republicans seem to be more preoccupied with SNAP requirements for hungry people than protecting taxpayers that have to bail out these banks.”

But a video of Fetterman’s comments is transcribed as follows:

“Shouldn’t you have some kind of working required after we sail your bank us billions of your bank? Because you seem we were preoccupied, uh, when, uh, then SNAP us requirements for works for, uh, hungry people but not about pro, protecting the tax, tax papers you know that will bail them out of whatever does about a bank to crash it.”

Later in the hearing, Fetterman said to Becker, “Is. Is it staggering? Is it a staggering a, res, uh, responsibility that ju— that a head of a bank could literally, could literally crash our economy? It’s astonishing.”

Fetterman only recently returned to the U.S. Senate after spending six weeks at Walter Reed Military Medical Center being treated for clinical depression. The depression is believed to be a consequence of a major stroke Fetterman suffered during last year’s U.S. Senate race.

Trending Politics co-owner Collin Rugg called Fetterman’s remarks “the most painful 90 seconds you will watch all month.”

Fox News reporter Houston Keene wrote Fetterman was “borderline incoherent” during his remarks, claiming the senator “appeared to struggle through his opening statement.”

“We are told we are to salute him for his bravery,” said John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, “but if his aphasia is so severe he cannot speak… he obviously can’t perform his duties in the way that he should.”

Fetteman’s performance has been compared to that of fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the 89-year-old senator who has missed months of votes in the Senate due to extreme age and illness.

When asked about her absence, Feinstein told a writer with, “No, I haven’t been gone.”

When asked whether she meant that she’d been working from home, Feinstein responded, “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”

Even progressives are now urging Feinstein to step down due to her inability to do her job.

“If you’re a Democratic senator and you’re not at least privately urging Feinstein to resign and urging Schumer and Durbin to take action, you have failed the people who sent you to Congress. You’re lying to yourselves that this is *okay*,” tweeted MSNBC Host Mehdi Hasan.

But elected Democrats in Congress are standing by Feinstein.

“I don’t have a medical degree, so I’m not going to comment on how she’s feeling or what she looks like,” said House Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), though he added, “We expect Senate Democrats to have our backs on some of these votes and discussions … I appreciate the fact that she’s back working and we wish her nothing but the best.”

Fetterman’s staff acknowledge Fetterman has problems, but they insist all is well.

“We have been clear for literally months and months that John continues to have auditory processing issues due to the effects of his stroke,” Fetterman spokesman Joe Calvello told Fox News.

“If sickos on the internet want to keep making fun of John for recovering from a health challenge, that’s between them and their consciences.”

Video of Fetterman’s Struggles in Senate Committee Goes Viral

The video of Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman struggling to speak during a committee hearing went viral on Wednesday, once again raising questions about the first-term Democrat’s ability to do the job.

It was Fetterman’s first time to chair a Senate subcommittee, and his performance repeatedly revealed the lingering effects of the stroke he suffered while on the campaign trail last year.

“I call to this hearing of the U.S. Senate subcommittee and food and nutrition and specialty crops, organics and research, to order,” the Democrat said.

Fetterman spoke haltingly, struggling to pronounce simple words. He used a child-like, sing-song voice as he read pre-prepared questions to those giving testimony to the committee.


State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who may be eyeing a run for the U.S. Senate in 2024, called the video “heartbreaking and difficult to watch.”

“Sadly, he has been unfit to serve since last May. Last year, he was unable to preside over the state Senate (as lieutenant governor) due to health reasons. Yet there is silence from the mainstream media, who would be daily demanding his resignation if he were a Republican.”

Fetterman was recently released after spending six weeks at Walter Reed Military Medical Center receiving treatment for severe depression. “My message right now isn’t political,” Fetterman said after his release. “I’m just somebody that’s suffering from depression.” Depression is a common after-effect of strokes, medical experts say.

His absence, coupled with the inability of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D- Calif.) to serve due to her age (she turns 90 in June) and health issues, denied Democrats a majority and brought work on several key committees to a halt.

Fetterman’s decision to remain in the 2022 Senate race despite his debilitation at the time generated criticism and questions. His poor performance in his one televised debate with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz was widely viewed as a fiasco at the time. But Fetterman handily defeated his GOP opponent, possibly because of the large number of ballots that had already been mailed in.

The criticisms were revived when Fetterman was forced back into treatment soon after being sworn into the Senate.

Delaware County GOP Chairman Frank Agovino said that while he supports “compassion and resources” for the disabled, “Sen. Fetterman is over his head and current ability level. It’s not fair to him, and every day he serves in the U.S. Senate, we are a little less safe.”

Pat Poprik, Bucks County GOP Chairwoman said, “It is so sad to see him struggle to read prepared remarks like this. It appears that he is unfortunately still dealing with the effects of his stroke, and I believe it raises questions about his ability to effectively serve in the United States Senate.”

Political pundits immediately reacted to the new video.

Christine Flowers, who often writes for DVJournal, said, “The senator is clearly still suffering the effects from the debilitating stroke he experienced almost a year ago. Listening to him speak in a halting, stilted manner elicits sympathy for him as an individual, but deep concern for his ability to fulfill his duties as a public servant. It is also an example of just how much his supporters, including his family and support staff, lack candor, as well as respect for his constituents.”

Townhall’s Matt Vespa wrote that his speech troubles indicate Fetterman “cannot serve a full term.”

Hannah Nightingale at the Post Millennial reported the senator “struggl[ed] with his words” during the speech.

And longtime Trump ally Jenna Ellis put it bluntly: “Fetterman is not okay.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

What Is John Fetterman’s Health Outlook Moving Forward?

In his successful U.S. Senate run, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, 53, had to surmount not just a formidable Republican opponent but also the lingering effects of an ischemic stroke likely caused by atrial fibrillation, the cardiac abnormality involving the heart’s upper two chambers.

When he takes office in January, Fetterman will have to persist with massive lifestyle changes necessary to stay healthy and also manage a new and demanding position.

Having served as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor since January 2019, and having run as a senatorial candidate once before, Fetterman is no stranger to the challenges of high-stakes politics.

And for patients with atrial fibrillation and a prior history of stroke, the potential for returning to a normal, healthy adult life is good. But doctors and medical researchers stress that beneficial lifestyle changes must be initiated and followed through. And there lies the challenge.

“Lifestyle modifications are hard to adopt and even harder to persist with,” said Peter Noseworthy, M.D., a cardio electrophysiologist and cardiologist in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He spoke in general about atrial fibrillation, not specifically about Fetterman.

Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac disorder resulting in an irregular heartbeat that can have bothersome symptoms, such as palpitations and shortness of breath. It also can lead to blood clotting and stroke, such as happened to Fetterman on May 13, 2022. He underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker-defibrillator on the day of the Democratic Senate primary, four days later.

After that, it was not a simple matter of getting up and leaping back into the race. The stroke had temporarily starved his brain of oxygen, leaving Fetterman with an auditory processing disorder known as aphasia. That made it difficult for him to understand spoken speech and respond clearly. The seeming disability gave his opponent, Mehmet Oz, fodder to accuse him of being unfit for the office.

Aphasia is a language deficiency, not a cognitive defect, and experts agree the adult brain can continue repairing itself six to nine months after a stroke, possibly for much longer. Some aphasia patients have made a full recovery.

Patients with atrial fibrillation are generally placed on oral anticoagulants to lessen the risks of another stroke. Lifestyle changes are also strongly recommended. “Atrial fibrillation is somewhat of a chronic condition,” Noseworthy said.

“That doesn’t mean it can’t be treated or controlled, but the risks of atrial fibrillation and stroke likely persist, so it’s not the kind of thing where you can take a short course of anticoagulant and minimize your risk. It requires ongoing treatment, usually over the course of a patient’s life to control symptoms and minimize the risk of stroke,” he said.

Fetterman is 6 foot 8 inches tall and given his peak weight of 400 pounds he had a body mass index (BMI) in the neighborhood of 44, well over the recommended BMI of 25 for his height. He has appeared much slimmer in public recently, suggesting that he is losing weight. He claims to walk four to five miles regularly. However, tall people have larger atria and are at greater risk for atrial fibrillation, and Fetterman, being unusually tall, is in a class by himself.

Medical researchers say there is compelling evidence that weight reduction can contribute enormously to risk reduction in atrial fibrillation. Patients who fail to bring their weight under control or who have wide weight fluctuations are at higher risk for recurrence of symptoms, according to studies reported by the American Heart Association.

At least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week is also thought to be beneficial in preventing problems with atrial fibrillation.

Fetterman famously ignored his doctor’s advice about his heart condition for five years until he had a stroke. So, succeeding with his recovery will involve bucking deep lifestyle trends while contending with a highly demanding public role.

Senators average just 165 “legislative days” a year, and for that, it is often alleged they do not work as hard as others. In fact, the days on Capitol Hill can be very long, and when not in session those elected to Congress have many other demands on their time.

“No matter where they are or what they are doing, House and Senate members are spending 83 percent to 85 percent of their time—and well over 40 hours a week—on legislative and policy work, constituent services, political and campaign work, press and media relations, and administrative duties,” according to, an education website.

In a mid-October 2022 update on Fetterman’s health, his doctor, Clifford Chen, M.D., said Fetterman was making substantial progress with his recovery, as evidenced by a blood pressure reading of 116/82 with a heart rate of 80 and a positive cholesterol profile. “I have spoken with his neurologist and cardiologist and he will follow up with them routinely. [Fetterman] takes appropriate medications to optimize his heart condition and prevent future strokes. He also exercises routinely.”

Based on that, Chen said Fetterman was committed to maintaining good fitness and health practices and could work a full shift in Congress with no restrictions.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or


As Fetterman Fumbles, Pundits Ask: Do Debates Still Matter?

NBC News reporter Dasha Burns’ revelation about Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s mental acuity has once again raised questions about his fitness for the job. It has also raised the stakes for his debate with Republican Mehmet Oz at the end of the month.

Burns, who recently interviewed Fetterman, received pushback from partisan members of the media when she reported that “in small talk before the interview without captioning, it wasn’t clear he was understanding our conversation.” Due to the impact of a stroke he suffered in May, Fetterman only agreed to the interview if he could use a computer monitor with real-time closed captioning.

For weeks, Fetterman refused to agree to any debates. Now, the Oz campaign says, he has pushed it back so late that weeks of early voting will have taken place before the voters get to take the lieutenant governor’s measure in a one-on-one with his opponent.

“John Fetterman will do anything to keep voters in the dark about his radical policies, even if that means delaying a debate until the last minute, lying about his health, and robbing voters of their right to hear directly from both candidates,” said Oz spokesperson Rachel Tripp. “If John Fetterman won’t even do voters the courtesy of answering their questions, why would they trust him to fight for them in Washington? Pennsylvanians deserve a senator who will answer tough questions and address issues head-on – Dr. Mehmet Oz.”

Fetterman pushed back on Twitter: “Recovering from a stroke in public isn’t easy. But in January, I’m going to be much better–and Dr. Oz will still be a fraud.”

Asked if he still plans to debate, Fetterman said, “Well, yeah, of course I’m going to show up on the 25th.”

Agreeing to a single debate is a sign Fetterman is unfit, his critics say. But in the post-Trump political era, do debates still matter?

Fetterman is hardly alone in avoiding debates this cycle. In Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker will only debate Sen. Raphael Warnock once, limiting the number of questions he is likely to face over allegations he paid for a woman’s abortion.

And in Arizona, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs is refusing to appear on stage with her GOP opponent Kari Lake even once. Not surprisingly, Lake is making an issue of Hobb’s refusal to give voters the basic courtesy of facing a nominee chosen by thousands of Arizona voters.

“I have no desire of the spectacle that she’s looking to create,” Hobbs told CBS News, adding that she is “happy with where we are.”

“Where she is” is trailing her Republican opponent by one point in the RealClearPolitics average.

And here in Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Doug Mastriano is also a “no” on debates thus far — not that his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is pushing to make one happen.

On Dom Giordano’s Phil-based radio show earlier this week, Mastriano said he’s happy to debate Shapiro. He just doesn’t want to have to debate the liberal media, too. He used the example of Gov. Tom Wolf (D)  debating Republican Scott Wagner with the late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek moderating. Trebek interjected his own opinions into the debate, Mastriano said.

He wants a debate where he and Shapiro pick their own moderators to ask questions, without any media bias.

“All the media would be welcome and then there is no bias. They could live-stream it all, whatever they want to do with it. We just want a fair platform. Josh Shapiro could even bring Donna Brazile. She could give him the questions in advance like she did Hillary Clinton. I don’t care. As a (former) military intelligence officer standing before generals, presidents, prime ministers, and handling tough issues of life and death, this would be a piece of cake,” Mastriano said.

More and more, however, pundits question the value of debates.

According to Larry Sabato, who oversees “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, candidates can “get away with canceling debates without much of a penalty.”

Sabato told ABC News that debates over debates “have become a permanent part of campaigning, and most people just tune it out because it doesn’t affect their lives. It has no real impact on your campaign or your likelihood to win.”

New England-based GOP strategist Patrick Griffin has a similar viewpoint.

“In the days of yore, when I was a young political hack, debates were all the rage. Everyone studied and practiced, debate prep was a serious thing mainly because voters watched. A gaffe could be deadly. Catching that hitch moment and seeing replay in ads again and again created a win-or-lose destiny for candidates,” Griffin said.

Not today.

“This election, like so many in recent years voters are too angry and impatient to listen to what they consider to be bs from both sides. Nobody has the time or interest — except for about a third of Democrats and a third of Republicans already firmly rooted in one camp or the other,” Griffin said.

Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research and the Floyd Institute for Public Policy at Franklin and Marshall College, bemoaned the decline of debates but said he understands the political strategy.

“I think candidates for public office should engage in debates,” Yost told DVJournal. “It is not unusual for candidates who have a comfortable lead to try to avoid debating because they often feel they have more to lose than gain from them.”

Are these candidates right?

“Past experience shows that debates do not usually change the trajectory of a race, but I think candidates are less interested in debates because it makes it potentially more difficult for them to control the messages that emerge if they misspeak.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

FLOWERS: Telling the Truth About Fetterman’s Health Isn’t A Partisan Attack

Before he became president, John F. Kennedy was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, serving despite his debilitating chronic back pain and suffering from Addison’s disease. JFK still got the job done, well enough to become president of the United States.

And to paraphrase the late Texas Sen. Lloyd Benson, “Lt. Gov. Fetterman, you’re no JFK.”

A politician can serve despite struggling with health conditions. Ronald Reagan was called The Great Communicator, and yet by most credible accounts, he was already in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease by the end of his second term. Franklin Roosevelt’s polio, while not a complete secret from the public, was cleverly hidden from view during his dozen years in office with the tacit complicity of the news media who rarely photographed or filmed him sitting in a wheelchair.

John Fetterman differs from them in some important ways. The most important is this: FDR, JFK, and Reagan were all elected while still in good health (at least as far as the public knew). The former mayor of Braddock is asking voters to give him their trust despite an illness that he acknowledges is impacting his mental acuity, an illness we, the people, can see impacting him right now.

It’s not a political attack or personal criticism to acknowledge a fact: Democrats have nominated a man to hold one of our two U.S. Senate seats who barely survived a near-death experience less than five months ago.

I find the attempts of his campaign and supporters to cover for his health unforgivable for several reasons.

First, and most importantly, voters deserve a full explanation of his current medical condition, not the rosy press releases regurgitated about how he’s “improving.” I’ll readily admit I’m not a doctor and I won’t play one on TV (or the interwebs). But you don’t need to be Dr. House — or even Dr. Phil — to wince as Fetterman fumbles for his words, appearing detached and disconnected, looking confused when asked questions and moving more slowly than the average man his age.

One of my friends, a nurse with decades in rehabilitative care, told me that while she obviously hadn’t examined Fetterman and doesn’t know the specifics of his stroke, “In general, I know that once someone has a stroke, the risk of having a second significantly increases.”

How will this impact Fetterman’s ability to represent Pennsylvania? To represent us? Fetterman attacks his opponent for being “from NJ;” but if given the choice, I think most of us would prefer a healthy Jersey boy to an impaired native son.

Another issue is the callousness of Fetterman’s team. They (and he) seem to be so focused on winning that they’re putting political ambitions ahead of his family obligations as a husband and a father to young children.

He’s ill. It’s obvious. And it’s inconceivable to me that the people who are supposed to care about him would allow him to push forward under those conditions.

As I wrote on Facebook, “I can’t stand the man and I have compassion. No one on the left will believe this, but it’s not purely about politics. Put in Conor Lamb, he could be a formidable Oz opponent. This is about simple human decency. The man is sick. Is the left selling its soul for a Senate win? Is that what matters? They could still win honorably, with a healthy candidate.”

Despite what some on the left are saying, it is not below the belt to question Fetterman’s health. It is legitimate. It is also compassionate. The physical and mental abilities of Pennsylvania’s junior senator must be at the highest levels.

We deserve competence. John Fetterman deserves attention. I’m glad that, slowly, people are coming to that realization.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Fetterman Suffers Stroke, Misses Campaign Event in Hatfield

Gabby Deardorff of Royersford and some 100 fellow John Fetterman supporters were gathered at Imprint Brewing, a brewpub in Hatfield, Friday evening. They hoped to see the lieutenant governor and cheer his race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. Then a campaign aide made a brief announcement that the candidate wasn’t feeling well, and the event was canceled.

Some supporters stayed to have a beer and a bite to eat, taking a “these things happen” view of the news.

Fetterman revealed on Sunday he had suffered a stroke.

“The good news is I’m feeling much better and the doctors tell me that I didn’t suffer any cognitive damage,” said Fetterman. “I’m well on my way to a full recovery. So there is a lot to be thankful for.”

Deardorff told DVJournal Friday night she supports Fetterman “because he’s a progressive.”

“I’m frustrated with the Democratic Party catering to the moderate middle, and I think we need more progressive leaders.”

(From left) Chelsie Smith, Karen Weingarten and Gabby Deardorff

Deardorff and Upper Providence resident Karen Weingarten are both Springford Area School Board members. Fetterman recently came to one of their campaign events.

“I think (Fetterman) is not afraid to get his hands dirty. He came out to an event for us. He was really supportive of local politics,” Weingarten said. “He’s easy to talk to. When he spoke at our event, you could tell he was genuine and unscripted.”

“I’m supporting Gisele and Levi,” joked Chelsie Smith,  a reference Fetterman’s wife and dog. Fetterman “was a mayor of a small town, and he has seen local government and moved his way through and seen what we have in Harrisburg. He knows what we need in D.C. We need a progressive person. We can’t do middle-of-the-road anymore.”

Dennis Trainer

Richard Detwiler of Souderton Borough said he is impressed with Fetterman’s “ability to be a normal person.”

Sarah Detwiler and Richard Detwiler

“I’m supporting anybody who is running for Senate who is not a Republican,” said Detwiler. “We can’t stand by and watch the world go to Trump.” Detwiler added that he had been an independent for years because of the Vietnam War but decided to become a Democrat.

“There was no way I could vote for (the parties of) Johnson or Nixon,” he said.

His daughter, Sarah Detwiler of Philadelphia, said she supports Fetterman as well.

“He doesn’t represent the Democratic establishment,” she said. “He’s a real person, not a politician.”

Dennis Trainer of Glenside said, “I just think he’s a good guy.” Referencing Fetterman’s biography, Trainer added, “He’s compassionate. He came to Braddock because he lost a friend.” Eventually, he ran for mayor to confront the crime problem.

As Trainer spoke with DVJournal, a man who saw the word “veteran” on Trainer’s baseball cap approached and thanked him for his service. Trainer turned the cap around, revealing that it was a political message:

“Veteran of the Class War.”


Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or