Taft and Pickwick: Sleep Apnea in the White House

John G. Sotos, MD

CHEST. 2003;124(3) 

In This Article

Taft's Place in History

Because of his severe OSA, Taft likely experienced unrelenting mental and physical fatigue each day of his presidency. Fortunately for the nation, these burdens did not unbalance him. He adhered to his bedrock principle of reverence for the law[93] and made significant accomplishments during his administration. Unfortunately for Taft, however, his unrecognized sleep apnea probably impaired mental faculties critical for political success and contributed to his political reputation as an inept bungler.

When Taft died in 1930, there was an enormous outpouring of grief and tribute. The public had long forgotten his presidential bumblings, replacing them with admiration and fondness for a man who gave 35 unswervingly honest years to public service. Now, an additional facet of William Howard Taft emerges: his perseverance and ultimate triumph against appetite, obesity, and sleep apnea.


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