Monday, October 30, 2023


Are we really doing this again? Sorry, but a new New York Times story by Michael Bender and Michael Gold is pure wishcasting:
How Trump’s Verbal Slips Could Weaken His Attacks on Biden’s Age

Donald Trump, 77, has relentlessly attacked President Biden, 80, as too old for office. But the former president himself has had a series of gaffes that go beyond his usual freewheeling style.

... Mr. Trump has had a string of unforced gaffes, garble and general disjointedness that go beyond his usual discursive nature, and that his Republican rivals are pointing to as signs of his declining performance.
You mean like the time he said that the U.S. Army "took over the airports" at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812? Oh, wait -- Trump said that in 2019. This is the problem with the "Now Trump's really losing it!" discourse -- you can find clips from a year ago, four years ago, eight years ago, that led hopeful Trump-haters to the conclusion that he's this close to full-blown dementia. And it never arrives. (Yastreblyansky did a fine analysis of that Fort McHenry gaffe at the time -- Trump's problem seems to have been a combination of historical ignorance and inability to read his own teleprompter.)

So what's different now, according to Bender and Gold?
On Sunday in Sioux City, Iowa, Mr. Trump wrongly thanked supporters of Sioux Falls, a South Dakota town about 75 miles away, correcting himself only after being pulled aside onstage and informed of the error.
Is that incipient dementia? If so, then I wonder why a presidential candidate who made the same mistake in reverse fifteen years ago in South Dakota isn't on a memory-care ward right now:
As the large, enthusiastic crowd of some 7,000 supporters roared and waved ‘We can do it’ signs and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’ blared, Obama bounded onto stage, grabbed the microphone and said, ‘Thank you, Sioux City!’

Trouble is, Obama was in Sioux Falls....

‘I’m sorry,’ Obama quickly caught himself. ‘Sioux Falls. I’ve been in Iowa too long.’
This was shortly after Obama said that he'd campagned in 57 states. Did Obama have dementia? No. He had a couple of brain farts. He's fine.

I know -- after mixing up Sioux City and Sioux Falls, Obama corrected himself quickly and Trump needed to be told that he'd made a mistake. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Trump is suffering a mental impairment. It may just mean that he's ignorant (which is obviously the case), or that he's so cocksure about his front-runner status that he doesn't believe he needs to work hard to avoid offending Iowans.

And this doesn't impress me either:
During a Sept. 15 speech in Washington, a moment after declaring Mr. Biden “cognitively impaired, in no condition to lead,” the former president warned that America was on the verge of World War II, which ended in 1945.
Trump is so pathetically vain that he won't publicly wear the eyeglasses he desperately needs -- he won't even wear them in the office in the presence of aides. I assume his staff stupidly put "World War III" rather than "World War Three" on the prompter and he read it as "World War II."

Reading difficulties might also explain this:
Last week, while speaking to supporters at a rally in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump praised Viktor Orban, the strongman prime minister of Hungary, but referred to him as “the leader of Turkey,” a country hundreds of miles away. He quickly corrected himself.
Even though Trump wants to be the president of the United States again, he really has no interest in the details of geopolitics, so he doesn't care where Orban is from. Plus, if you're half-blind and you won't wear glasses, "Hungary" and "Turkey" probably look alike on a prompter. (And if you know bugger-all about the Middle East, then of course you might say "Hamas" in a way that makes it sound like "hummus." That's not cognitive impairment -- Trump simply hasn't ever thought about Hamas enough to commit the pronunciation of the group's name to memory. And it doesn't matter, because his voters haven't, either.)

I don't know why Trump has recently said his 2016 opponent was Obama rather than Hillary Clinton (though I'm sure Obama was the candidate he wanted to beat, especially after that White House Correspondents Dinner speech). I think some of this might fall under the category of "mild cognitive impairment," but that's a long way from dementia.

I'll keep saying what I've been saying for years: Trump is a Vegas insult comic wannabe, and he still has moderately good comedy timing.

When he loses that, I'll believe he's sliding into severe impairment. And as long as he can do that, the public will see him as sharper and more articulate than President Biden. I know none of us want to accept that, but it's true.

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