There is still a huge stigma against mental illness and drug use, especially when they are linked to candidates for public office, so, while it is contemptible that Manny Villar should strive so hard to make capital out of a supposed psychiatric report of his rival Noynoy Aquino’s from 1996, it is not surprising. Of course it is beyond contemptible if, as the Aquino camp asserts, the document was forged by people working on the Villar campaign. A dirty trick like that would put Villar right up with Gordon Liddy, Chuck Colson, and the rest of the Watergate team.
We’ll have to see whether this will become just another speck of mud in an increasingly personal campaign, or whether it grows into something more substantial. I would think that the Aquino-Roxas campaign must be a bit concerned by this development since the image of the candidate that emerges from the document—depressed solitary drinker, heavy smoker of tobacco and marijuana, poor cognitive skills, sexually repressed—is not a reassuring presidential profile. Senator Eagelton's short-lived career as McGovern's running mate in 1972 is a good example of what can happen to a candidate once a previous history of treatment for mental illness is exposed.