Whenever someone on the left takes issue with President Joe Biden’s slips and stumbles — and not just of the verbal variety — calling his fitness into question, remind them Biden was the first to do it.
Last year, then-President Donald Trump visited the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. As The New York Times put it, “videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp,” which led to “new questions about his health.”
The Biden campaign didn’t let the media do its work for it on this. Instead, it released an advertisement showing Biden energetically running hither and yonder and juxtaposing it with a clip of Trump at West Point.
“Some people are always in a hurry — they run when they could walk,” said the voice-over on the advertisement, released two months later. “Race up steps when others take it slow.” That’s when footage of Trump at the U.S. Military Academy played.
“When Joe Biden is president, America is just going to have to keep up.”
New Biden 2:00 ad trying to troll Trump ft. Biden riding bike, running up ramp:
“Some people are always in a hurry. They run when they could walk, race up steps when others take it slow. When Joe Biden is president, America is just going to have to keep up.” pic.twitter.com/IoioQRI6KE
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) August 27, 2020
Biden himself mocked Trump when talking to the media, except in his inimitable Biden-speak. “Look at how he steps and look at how I step,” he said. “Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. Come on.”
FLASHBACK -> Biden mocks Trump’s ramp walk at West Point and claims he’s stronger: “Look at how he steps and look at how I step. Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. Come on.” pic.twitter.com/U7CL0dBSQA
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) March 19, 2021
Those who follow the 46th president even casually know that “come on” is one of Biden’s tells when he’s nervous. (Watch out for the rare but important “come on, man” — that’s a sign you’ve got Biden in a real Ativan moment.)
It turns out that’s because if Biden’s physical mobility is a sign of the vigor with which he’ll pursue greatness in leadership, America is precipitously close to being in a mobility scooter.
On Wednesday, as he departed Washington for Pittsburgh to unveil his infrastructure plan, the president had an issue with the steps on Air Force One. Again.
It wasn’t as noticeable as last time, but keep your eyes out at 0:10:
President Biden boards Air Force One en route to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania pic.twitter.com/LvBJQy37VD
— The Hill (@thehill) March 31, 2021
As for last time, here’s the president’s March 19 stumble:
Another angle pic.twitter.com/BQkfn9eRcQ
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 19, 2021
Generally speaking, one would ordinarily feel compassion here no matter where you are on the political spectrum. There are a few things preventing this.
First, Biden and the media raised the specter of physical health with Trump, using the West Point appearance as a fulcrum.
Even though Biden was older than Trump — indeed, older than any other U.S. president — he was more vigorous than the man in charge. Even though Biden was prone to gaffes like “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” Trump was the only gaffer. When CNN’s Jake Tapper even dared to bring it up, now-first lady Jill Biden said that applying the word “gaffe” to her husband was “over” because of Trump’s verbal trip-ups.
Biden was a candidate who would “race up steps when others walk” very gingerly down ramps. And yet he’s fallen once on the steps of Air Force One, he’s almost fallen again (while walking gingerly without a hand on or near the railing, which wasn’t the canniest move) and he’s had his foot broken by a rambunctious German shepherd right after he got out of the shower, all since late December.
Take away the references to Air Force One and this doesn’t sound like the first few months of a new president’s term, it sounds like the concatenation of events that occurs right before you talk with your siblings about getting dad full-time home care.
Second, remember how Joe Biden and those around him promised transparency? When dealing with his first fall, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was the picture of opacity. Watch her avoid answering whether he saw a doctor for the fall no less than three times:
So here’s what we know from those answers:
- Those Air Force One steps are “a little tricky sometimes, but he’s doing great.”
- When it comes to seeing a doctor, Psaki is “not aware of that being required. There’s, of course, a doctor who travels with the president, any president of the United States, but I’m not aware of it needing actual extensive medical attention.”
- She didn’t answer “no?” She’s aware that “there’s a doctor who travels with [Biden]” and the president “was walking around, as you all saw, by the end of the day.”
- Psaki is “just trying to be completely transparent.”
Here’s what we don’t know:
- The answer to the question of whether Biden saw a doctor.
Again, the reason this matters is that it runs against the narrative the media and Biden have been spinning. Last year, they were all about physical vigor. They covered Biden’s ad and his soundbite about Trump’s walk down a ramp at West Point as if both were entirely germane to leadership qualities.
Here’s Jason Rantz, conservative Seattle radio host, giving us a reminder of some of the headlines last June. See if you can remember anything this dire after Biden’s first Air Force One tumble:
CNN: “Why the Donald Trump-West Point ramp story actually matters”
Bloomberg: “Trump Says Slippery Ramp, Lack of Handrail Caused Shaky Walk”
Let’s see how these outlets cover this Joe Biden slips story.
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) March 19, 2021
And now, of course, falls like these shouldn’t matter:
I agree. But it’s tough when Biden himself said this: https://t.co/K2ducfVmxr
— S.R. (@srportland) March 20, 2021
Come on, man: It matters or it doesn’t.
Judging by last June’s bedlam over a ramp at West Point, we’ve all decided it matters.
That’s going to be a problem for Joe Biden, whose frequent stumbles appear to no longer be confined to the verbal realm.
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