The Slur Heard ‘Round the World

Yesterday, President Trump gave a speech where he announced that the US was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and eventually move our embassy to the divided ancient city from Tel Aviv.

This is an incredibly controversial and possibly ill-considered action that Trump didn’t seem to have a full understanding of. It also risks setting off a firestorm of protests and serving as a crushing blow to the Middle East peace process.

Trump did it anyway. And while he did it, he gave a speech that was almost as troubling in its delivery as it was in its content.

You heard it too, right?

The heavy breathing, the slurring, the snorting, the inability to pronounce “United States” correctly. I didn’t imagine that, and it’s not confirmation bias. He’s actually doing that. The President of the United States appeared to be struggling to deliver a short speech in a coherent manner without slurring numerous words.

Well, at least I heard it. And a lot of other people did too.

The internet being what it is, numerous conspiracy theories were put forth.

Some people speculated it was a mini-stroke. Others that Trump was showing signs of being heavily drugged or sedated, or even that Trump,  a well-known teetotaler, was drunk or high on cocaine.

Other possibilities were less sinister, such as Trump having dentures come loose, or that he had a dry mouth due to routine medication. Either of these are totally plausible and completely benign.

CNN went as far as interviewing several speech pathology experts, who agreed that the slurring was unusual, and that any of the above explanations were possible. But they couldn’t know more without examining him.

The frenzy continued until the White House offered an explanation for the bizarre speech pattern. But since this is the Trump White House, who can’t do anything the easy way, their explanation only added more fuel to the fire of conspiracy.

A White House spokesman told the LA Times that he slurring was due to Trump having a “dry throat.”

That would seem to clear things up…except it doesn’t explain why this exact thing has happened before. The sniffing isn’t new, we saw that during the debates. And Trump’s speech patterns have always been strange and idiosyncratic – though not nearly as bad earlier in his life.

I mean this exact labored speaking and slurring. This is at least the third time it’s happened in the last month.

Here’s Trump’s post-Asia trip speech, where he struggles to get words out while breathing heavily, and appears to be confused by where a water bottle is.

And here’s Trump a week earlier in South Korea, slurring and meandering his way through a denunciation of North Korea:

Beyond that, there’s also all of the times Trump has displayed some kind of cognitive impairment or difficulty.

He’s forgotten to sign multiple executive orders after signing ceremonies. He’s walked away from the car meant to pick him up from Air Force One, even though it was right in front of him. He appeared to have no idea where Rudy Giuliani was during a cabinet meeting, despite the former NYC mayor sitting directly across from him.

I could go on. And I’m troubled by all of this.

Should I be? I have no idea, because the White House won’t give us a cogent, detailed explanation for what the hell is happening.

Again, chronic dry mouth due to medication or some loose dental work is a totally plausible explanation for Trump’s speech difficulties. And if President Trump actually does wear dentures, it would be the least deserving thing to mock him for.

The problem is that the White House either doesn’t understand this, or isn’t allowed to disseminate any information that paints Donald Trump as anything other than an Adonis in a red tie. Remember that quack doctor who bragged of Trump’s “astonishingly excellent” health without giving us the slightest detail?

So they toss out “dry throat” as the explanation, with no further information or context, and expect it to make the issue go away.

It’s entirely possible that Trump has ill-fitting replacement teeth. Or that he’s taking some kind of medication that has the side effect of slurred speech. He certainly wouldn’t be the first president who needed regular medical intervention.

Whatever it is, the American people need to know more about the health of their president. He doesn’t have the option of privacy, not now in the social media age.

If it’s no big deal, give us the truth. Let us have our jokes, then we’ll move on.

But if it is a serious problem, such as symptoms of dementia, or one of a series of strokes the president has suffered, action has to be taken. Someone has to step in and think of the American people – even the ones who didn’t vote for him.

Tossing it off with a one line explanation isn’t going to work.

 

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