Tuesday Reads: Ramp-Gate, Water-Gate, and Other NewsPosted: June 16, 2020
After Trump’s obvious difficulty walking down a ramp after his speech at West Point on Saturday, his questionable health is finally being discussed by major news sources.
The New York Times: Trump’s Halting Walk Down Ramp Raises New Health Questions.
President Trump faced new questions about his health on Sunday, after videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and having trouble bringing a glass of water to his mouth during a speech there.
Mr. Trump — who turned 74 on Sunday, the oldest a U.S. president has been in his first term — was recorded hesitantly descending the ramp one step at a time after he delivered an address to graduating cadets at the New York-based academy on Saturday. The academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, walked alongside him. Mr. Trump sped up slightly for the final three steps, as he got to the bottom.
Another video circulated of Mr. Trump taking a sip of water from a glass tucked inside his lectern on the dais at West Point. Mr. Trump held the glass with his right hand and brought it to his mouth, but appeared to momentarily have trouble lifting his arm farther. He used his left hand to push the bottom of the glass so that it reached his lips.
More from the NYT:
“The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery,” Mr. Trump wrote. “The last thing I was going to do is ‘fall’ for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!”
There was no evidence that the ramp was slippery, and the skies were clear during the ceremony.
The videos again raised questions about the health of Mr. Trump, whose advisers have never fully explained his abrupt visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November, saying at the time only that it was intended to get a jump on his annual physical….
Mr. Trump’s difficulty traversing stairs and ramps has come up before, most notably in January 2017, when he clutched the hand of Theresa May, then the British prime minister, as they walked at the White House.
The Washington Post: As Trump casts Biden as ‘sleepy Joe,’ his critics raise questions about his own fitness.
For Trump, who has tried to cast his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, as “sleepy” and mentally absent, the attacks over his own wellness appeared to hit close to home. The president defended himself by offering a credulity-straining explanation for his unsteady gait, describing the standard-looking ramp as “steep” and “very slippery.”
In the first presidential race in which the combined age of the two leading candidates exceeds 150 years, mental acuity and physical health have become a central theme as the 77-year-old Biden and the 74-year-old Trump compete for votes. While previous presidential contests have included whisper campaigns and rumors about candidates’ health, the open charges of senility flying between the two camps sets the 2020 contest apart, said Barbara Perry, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
“These kinds of rumblings used to happen behind the scenes,” she said. “And now, because of both social media and the attack style of campaigning that Trump uses, there’s been this turning point.”
The Trump campaign’s eagerness to focus on Biden’s verbal gaffes could be a “double-edged” sword as attention turns back to the president’s own behavior, she said.
Joe Biden even released an ad after Trump’s troubles with the ramp and the water glass.
The Washington Post: ‘Like a baby deer on a frozen pond’: Late-night hosts mock Trump over ‘Ramp-gate’
In a now-viral video, Trump was seen Saturday taking small, visibly tentative steps as he walked down a standard-looking ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the academy’s superintendent, hovered nearby, keeping pace with the president while he slowly descended.
“You know, for a guy who constantly talks about how tough he is, he sure walks like a baby deer on a frozen pond,” Meyers quipped, playing footage of the Trump’s walk. “What is wrong with him? Are we going to have to get him an Acorn Stairlift?”
And from Stephen Colbert:
On CBS, host Stephen Colbert kicked off his show with a cold open that treated Trump’s brief walk as if it were a riveting sports broadcast.
“Daredevil Donald is about to tempt the fates by trying to walk down a gentle decline,” an announcer said. “Let’s take a look at the ramp. Check out that pitch, a precipitous 4.8-degree slope.”
As video played of Trump taking his first step, the announcer provided an energetic play-by-play.
“And there he goes! Attacking the slope with a precise shuffle,” the voice said. “One foot and then the other comes to meet it. Much like a bride walking down the aisle. His main goal: Just stay upright.”
“If it had been a ramp, he’d still be coming down,” Colbert joked. “But you can’t blame the guy, any time he’s around the military those damn bone spurs act up.”
More late night jokes at the WaPo link.
Raw Story reported on Trump whisperer Maggie Haberman’s assessment on CNN: Trump upset with coverage of his health as questions swirl over his potential maladies: Maggie Haberman.
Appearing on CNN’s “New Day” to discuss the state of Donald Trump’s health, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times said whether the president is hiding illness or not, coverage of his problems walking down a ramp, as well as footage of him struggling to raise his right arm high enough for him to take a drink, is troubling to the president.
With CNN medical expert Sanjay Gupta begging off from diagnosing Trump, the New York Times reporter was asked about the political implications for the president.
“Perhaps no one more sensitive to how his health and stamina is portrayed in public than the president himself and you saw that in his tweet explaining this over the weekend, trying to explain that slow walk down the ramp,” New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota began. “What is the president’s level of concern, given that he has not been shy about attacking his political opponents as somehow not being up to the job?”
“Look, this is never coverage the president wants of anything related to his health,” the reporter replied. “As you know he invited it by responding to the videos [on Twitter]. It wasn’t just the video of him on a ramp; there was another video of him having trouble lifting a water glass to his mouth, where he had to use his left hand to basically finish helping his right arm guide it to his mouth at a speech at West Point — he never likes coverage like this.”
“As I said, he invited it by tweeting about it,” she continued. “I think Sanjay is right. We don’t know what the issue is, we don’t know from looking at this video. We know the president has had issues with stairs before, but as Sanjay also says, there are a lot of questions around the president’s physical fitness, because he has dictated a note to a doctor in 2016, because he had this still unexplained, other than saying he wanted to get a jump on his physical, abrupt visit to Walter Reed [Hospital] last year.”
One more from Jennifer Rubin: Trump is in denial about his and others’ health.
On Saturday, at his address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., he needed two hands to sip a glass of water. His tottering, baby steps down a ramp while exiting was the latest episode in which he seemed to have trouble navigating uneven footing….
We will likely never know until he is out of the White House what mental and/or physical ailments may afflict him. Two things are clear, however. First, it is an entirely legitimate topic for the campaign. The media should not relent in asking questions and demanding to speak with his doctors. Second, former vice president Joe Biden, a spry and fit 77-year-old, would be foolish not to mention it during the campaign. Trump increasingly seems like he is from another era, not someone who can make America great, but rather someone who never left the 1950s. His doddering appearance and faltering speech only add to the image of a man fading before our eyes.
The Daily Beast: Trump’s COVID Data Crunchers See Coronavirus Racing Down America’s Major Highways.
The New York Times: Pence Tells Governors to Repeat Misleading Claim on Outbreaks.
The Washington Post: What has the Trump administration done with a half-trillion dollars?
The Washington Post: President Trump says his family is unified. A niece’s book could explode that image.
New York Magazine: Trump’s Niece to Make a Big Addition to the Genre of Tell-all Trump Books.
I know this isn’t much of a post, but I’m really struggling with following the news these days. What’s on your mind today?