Tag Archives: aging

About that Slippery Ramp. . .

The explanations that kept multiplying affirmed what so many believe about the President: that he is preoccupied by the wrong things.

Recently President Trump was photographed leaving a graduation event at West Point gingerly descending a long ramp.  And, as everyone knows, he looked a lot like our grandfathers teetering along a sidewalk after a bad ice storm.

Social media had a field day with the images. Trump’s baby steps made the oversized man with an even larger ego look uncharacteristically frail.  And it created a lesson about what a perfect presidential response could be.

In American society it is almost never permissible to use age as a reason for any limitation. There is shame in accepting that we’ve been changed by time. Most public figures would laugh off the incident with grace, perhaps acknowledging (if they did at all) that ramps without rails can be slippery.  (The sloping walkway in fact had a rough-surface grip on its surface about every two feet.)

End of story. . . but not quite.

In his defense, he was probably right to mention that hard leather shoes can act like deflon on a smooth painted surface.

End of story . . . but not quite.

Two perfect responses down.  Any more begins to be less, including over ten minutes of defensiveness at his political rally in Tulsa. This vaudeville act was a grotesque overreaction from a President of the United States, given the medical, financial and social crises wracking the country.

End of story . . . but not quite.

He again addressed the same moment at West Point with the press in a later meeting.

Given the nation’s crippling problems, none of this really matters as substance.  But it does signal a character problem.  Many in their seventies may know the health costs of falling and breaking a hip can be far-reaching and even life-threatening. He had two reasonable explanations for caution.  That was enough. His continued reference to the event reminded us that the appearance of frailty mattered too much. It fed the widespread view that the President’s rhetoric only makes sense to him if it involves self praise and a blustery persona more appropriate to professional wrestling than political leadership.  So the explanations that turned into too many began to reaffirm what so many believe about the President: that he is more concerned about appearances than substance. And when protests of innocence boomerang, they end up as affirmations through denial, communicating to almost everyone that a person has lost awareness of what he is signaling.