There’s always an odd tinge to Donald Trump’s skin, but I swear it looked even odder the other day, and I doubt it’s my television set. It had a new, exaggerated flush, as if his heart was racing or beating erratically. He was sweaty, too. I’m not diagnosing anything. Just making an observation.
And his recall. It’s beyond spotty. He said last week that Robert Mueller had so badly bungled his congressional testimony that he had to release a sort of do-over letter clarifying what he’d meant, but Mueller did no such thing. Bill Barr was the one who mucked things up. Trump had mixed up the two, which is something that happens more and more as your mind dulls. I’m merely quoting the literature.
I also wonder: What’s with all the private “executive time” on his daily White House schedule, when he’s off by himself, unobserved and unobservable? He could be hooked up to a dialysis machine. He could be receiving transfusions. I don’t have evidence of either. But who needs proof when you have suspicions?
And why should I hold those in check when the president and his enablers make no effort to?
In 2016 they sought to sow doubts about Hillary Clinton’s physical fitness by homing in on every errant step she took, every bit of exhaustion she flashed, every inscrutable glaze of her eyes. With deft editing of video footage and dire analysis from the likes of Rudy Giuliani, they turned the inevitable wobbles during an excruciating marathon into “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Clinton was a corpse — well, a near corpse — being animated by secretive aides and propped up by Democratic desperation. Vote for her at your peril.
Now it’s Joe Biden’s turn. “He acts different than he used to,” Trump told journalists on Tuesday just before he flew to Iowa, where Biden was as well. “He looks different than he used to.”
You have to hand it to Trump. He’s a pot for whom calling the kettle black isn’t miscue but reflex, an attempt to make voters believe that he must not be a pot at all, not if he’s talking this way, so maybe he’s a waffle iron.
No sooner had Biden emerged as the early Democratic front-runner than Trump christened him “Sleepy Joe” and intimated that age had leeched the zest from him, never mind that Biden, at 76, is just four years longer in the tie — I mean tooth — than Trump.
“I look at Joe — I don’t know about him,” Trump told reporters in late April. “I don’t know.”
In that same exchange, he also said: “I just feel like a young man. I’m so young. I can’t believe it.” We can’t, either, because like much of what leaves his lips, it’s demonstrably false. Seventy-two is not the new 18, even if your penchant for name-calling and tantrums puts you somewhere in the vicinity of 6 or 7.
Trump’s only standards are double ones. So he can go after Biden’s vim just as he skewered Jeb Bush’s vigor, while he himself returned home to his own bed on most nights of his 2016 campaign, retreats to his Florida or New Jersey resort every weekend that he possibly can and, at one memorable summit meeting in Sicily, rode around in a golf cart while his European peers walked. Could he have a degenerative nerve disorder with ambulatory implications? I’m letting my mind wander. That’s what Trump does, after all.
That’s what his loyalists do, too. As Justin Baragona recently noted in The Daily Beast, the Fox News stars Sean Hannity and Lisa Kennedy Montgomery have repeatedly made insinuations about Biden’s hardiness, with her claiming at one point that Biden’s rivals “know there is something wrong with the former vice president.” She didn’t explain the basis for that claim or what the vague “something” might be. Better to let listeners’ imaginations bloom darkly.
The band of Biden detractors is jelling. Their drumbeat is loudening. “I think he’s the weakest mentally,” Trump said of Biden on Tuesday. “I like running against people who are weak mentally.” I bet Biden likes running against people who are weak ethically. He has the privilege of running against the weakest one of all.
You trot that goofy moon **** out every once in a while. You don’t believe we landed on the moon? What’s your hangup?