Politics - News Analysis

Trump Still Hasn’t Had His Annual Physical and After Today’s Speech, We Must Ask Why

This president is not well.

Two days after his closer-to-conventional State of the Union address, President Donald Trump just delivered a … different sort of speech.

After being officially acquitted in the Senate’s impeachment trial, Trump on Thursday gave what he called “not a speech” but rather a “celebration,” spending more than an hour riffing on impeachment related topics, thanking Republicans, and attacking various “horrible” people.

“Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person,” Trump said. “Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. … I doubt she prays at all. And these are vicious people.”

Trump, of course, also went after Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator to vote for his conviction, calling him a “failed presidential candidate” and suggesting he “used religion as a crutch.”

While thanking Republicans, Trump, let’s just say, went a bit off script. “He’s obviously very proud of his body,” he at one point said of Rep. Jim Jordan. “I’m looking at those ears, and I say, those ears have something going on there.” Later, he spoke for several minutes about Rep. Steve Scalise being shot in 2017 during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, repeatedly emphasizing that he could have died.

“He got whacked,” Trump said of Scalise. “He got whacked. My Steve. … Honestly, I think you’re better looking now. You’re more handsome now. You weren’t that good looking. You look good now.”

Finally wrapping up at the end of the address — or “celebration,” rather — that lasted about as long as a typical campaign rally, Trump said he wanted to “apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people.”

Anyone who has watched Trump speak over the last couple of years has noticed how off Trump seems when he speaks. He mispronounces words, slurs, and his body often jerks and he sweats. The Daily Show even put together a compilation of Trump’s habit of mispronouncing words.

But Thursday’s speech was on a whole new level.

Initially, the president seemed out of breath—as if he had arrived at the microphone after completing a morning jog. His affect was completely flat, giving the appearance of having no investment in the words he was reading from the teleprompter.

There was a heaviness to his delivery, as if he was struggling to talk through cottonmouth.

In case anyone is tempted to suggest that this is simply the way Trump talks, it is helpful to go back to interviews he’s done in the past and notice that, while his positions might be similar, his speech patterns have seriously digressed. For example, here he is talking to Oprah in 1988.

While it would be inappropriate to speculate about a diagnosis for these symptoms, it is equally problematic to simply ignore them. There is something physically wrong with this president and, especially given the circumstances of an escalation of tensions with a foreign adversary, the American public has a right to know about the physical health of the commander-in-chief.

And thus far, there has been no physical for the president in 2020, which has traditionally happened in January. Trump had a “partial physical” back in Thanksgiving that was unannounced, and everyone speculated it was something much more serious.

Washington Monthly’s Lee Siegel put it perfectly:

“We don’t need to be told by a doctor that the guy who is coughing and sneezing at the other end of the train car is probably sick, though we don’t know if it is a cold, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, or an allergy. All we know is that the safe thing to do is to stay away from him. When someone is compulsively lying, continuously contradicting himself, imploring the approval of people even as he is attacking them, exalting people one day and abusing and vilifying them the next, then the question of his mental state is moot. The safe thing to do is not just to stay away from him, but to keep him away from situations where he can do harm.”

Given what we just witnessed today, it is time for journalists to go beyond covering the words of this president and begin to name the elephant in the room that is obvious to anyone who is actually paying attention. This president is not well.


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