Saturday, June 13, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He sparked a discussion on health care, for himself and others.

Trump forced the United States Military Academy's graduating class back to West Point this weekend so that he could be seen giving a commencement address. Trump's boredom with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been fairly evident in recent weeks, but more than 20,000 people are still contracting it every day in the United States, and the disease has cut short the lives of more than 117,000 Americans, not counting those who died never having gotten a test. 

More than 15 graduating cadets tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to West Point—even though all 1,107 of them were forced into a two-week quarantine before the ceremony. (In spite of his lack of interest in the virus's spread nationwide, Trump remains extremely vigilant where his personal exposure to it is concerned.) Those cadets, though asymptomatic, were potential spreaders on airplanes or buses during their travel back to West Point.

But as the ceremony progressed, Trump's own health became a more immediate concern for those watching. He suffered a return of his occasional difficulty pronouncing certain words, and struggled to lift a water glass and needed both hands to steady it. At the end of the speech, he walked unsteadily and gingerly down a shallow ramp. 

None of these are new problems for Trump, whose health—particularly his neurological health—has drawn concern from doctors and mental health professionals since he took office. These have intensified recently, as Trump has shown more signs of impairment during public outings. 

Trump ignored all criticism about exposing the USMA graduating class (and those they came into contact with) to a dangerous and sometimes fatal infectious disease. But the speculation about his own neurological function was too much for him to bear, and he lashed out this evening on Twitter with a detailed explanation of how the ramp was supposedly too slippery to walk normally on, although the weather had been sunny all day. (He also claimed he "ran" down. He did not.) Neither the military officer walking next to Trump nor any other person who used the ramp had any difficulty.

Who cares?

  • Presidents who are suffering from physical or neurological impairments owe it to the country to be honest about them.
  • Military officers aren't supposed to be used as political props.
  • The health and safety of all Americans, including military servicemembers and their families, is more important than Donald Trump's desire for attention.