In a column for Politico, longtime political observer Jeff Greenfield explained that images and video of Donald Trump struggling to raise a glass of water to his mouth and slowly and carefully walking down a ramp at West Point this past weekend likely did major damage to his 2020 re-election hopes.
Over the weekend speculation was rampant on social media about the state of the president’s health — driven in part by the Never Trumpers at the Lincoln Project — and tone and discussion about the topic has added a new hurdle for a campaign that already is struggling with collapsing poll numbers over the president’s other missteps on the economy and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As Greenfield notes, past history, where sitting presidents displayed growing physical infirmities, shows that doubts about the candidates’ health weigh heavily on voters’ minds and are a challenge for campaigns to make go away.
“Whatever the label, when the videos appeared on Saturday of President Trump shuffling down that ramp at West Point, a general walking attentively by his side, and using two hands to guide a water glass to his lips, the response on liberal Twitter threatened to deplete America’s Strategic Schadenfreude Reserve,” Greenfield observed. “The images led to some elaborate online speculations and diagnoses, and for Trump, the attention clearly struck a nerve. Why else would the president take to Twitter to offer the excuse that the ramp was ‘very slippery‘ (a claim that a New York Times story labeled highly dubious)?”
According to the columnist, Trump has good reason to worry about how the public perceives his possible declining health.
“It may sound trivial, and it’s often unfair, but when a modern president, or even a candidate, exhibits physical weakness, it comes with a political cost,” the columnist wrote before recalling the damaging images of former President Gerald Ford almost constant stumbling, Jimmy Carter’s collapse at the end of a six-mile race in 1979, and President George H.W. Bush vomiting in the middle of a state dinner in Japan.
“Without overstating the impact of these moments, it’s interesting to note that in each instance, the president lost his next election,” Greenfield wrote. “Is this simply a demonstration of how the image has replaced reality in modern days? The preoccupation with physical vigor certainly isn’t new; in flogging his strength and stamina, Trump is drawing on a public fixation that has been part of our politics since, literally, the beginning.”
“Yes, it may seem absurd to argue that in a time of pandemic, economic catastrophe, demands for racial justice, and a president often at war with the norms of a Constitutional republic, that a couple of video images should really preoccupy either the president or his critics,” he explained before concluding, “But Donald Trump has a native instinct for knowing what matters—not what the pundits say, or what civics classes tell you, but what really sticks with people. And history says he’s right to be concerned about this one.”
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Trump ripped as a ‘traitor’ by veterans for his mask photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital
The veteran advocacy organization Vote Vets on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump for holding a photo-op at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
After a round of golf on Saturday, Trump traveled to the hospital to be photographed by the press pool wearing a mask, which was a first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vote Vets, which says it has raised over $120 million since being founded in 2006 and made over 50 million voter contacts, released a new video on Trump's visit.
The ad says it shows "what wounded warriors see when Trump comes for a photo-op."
Trump’s push to reopen schools prematurely is an assault on states’ rights that may prove deadly
It’s hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu as the Trump regime threatens to withhold federal education funding from states that refuse to re-open their schools this fall. The contours of the “debate,” such as it is, perfectly align with the one we had a couple of months ago about re-opening businesses in the midst of a pandemic.
Then, as now, conservatives tried to frame the issue as a choice between re-opening and staying stuck in quarantine indefinitely. Those less moored to reality, including the President, insisted that proponents of quarantines were only motivated by a desire to undermine Trump’s prospects for re-election. The real divide at the time was between those of us who wanted to follow the science, build up adequate testing and contact-tracing capacity and re-open safely once the rate of infection had declined, and those, mostly on the right, who wanted to re-open prematurely either because they believed we’d achieve herd immunity if we let the outbreak run its course or because they thought Covid-19 was a “hoax” that was no more serious than the seasonal flu.
How 68,000 COVID-19 survivors created a world-class patient resource group in just four months
Diana Berrent was one of the first people in her hometown of Port Washington, New York, to get COVID-19. Back then, in early March 2020, only immunocompromised and seniors were believed to be high-risk; hence, as a 46-year-old yoga practitioner and runner, Berrent was "shocked" when she woke up with a 103-degree fever and respiratory infection — symptoms that strongly suggested she had coronavirus, which was later confirmed by a test.
This article first appeared in Salon.