At West Point, President Trump gave a commencement speech. During the speech, he attempted to drink a glass of water using his right hand, then appeared to need the support of his left hand to tip the glass to his mouth. This is not the first time Trump has been witnessed needing to use two hands to use a glass or bottle of water, as seen in November 2017. In February 2016, a right-handed grip was sufficient for Trump to drink a bottle of water. In that incident, he ridiculed Marco Rubio for using a water bottle during a speech. Trump flung a water bottle with his right hand, purposefully spilling water, and then drank from the bottle using only his right hand.
When exited the stage, he had a halting gait as he descended a ramp. For the last three steps, he increased his pace somewhat. The difficulty Trump is possibly having walking down a ramp caused much speculation in the press.
Trump tweeted, “The ramp I descended after my West Point Commencement [sic] speech was very long & steep, had no handrail, and most importantly, was very slippery. The last thing I was going to do is “fall” for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!”
By tweeting about his gait, Trump drew even more attention to it. From the video footage, it appears that the point at which Trump “speeds up” is not ten feet. The motion does not qualify as “running.” Maggie Haberman of The New York Times wrote that Trump’s tweet “offered a description that did not match the visuals.”
Trump recently turned 74 years old, the oldest first-term president in history. Trump had an impromptu visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center in November 2017. The purpose of the visit was described by the White House press secretary at the time, Stephanie Grisham, as Trump getting a head start on his annual physical exam during a “free weekend” due to “anticipating a very busy 2020.” Trump’s annual exams are usually in January or February.
Why are Trump’s issues with walking and drinking water with two hands causing so much speculation? First, Trump appears loathe to admit any weakness or vulnerability. He tends to dig in deeper to explain that everything is fine, even when there is video evidence is to the contrary. It is a characteristic of a person who could be covering up a larger issue or a person who is in denial of an issue. Either option is concerning. With narcissism, denying any physical weakness tends to be common.
Second, there has been speculation that Trump’s unscheduled visit to Walter Reed in November was not for a routine physical. Reporters were told to not disclose the visit until Trump arrived at Walter Reed. Presidential physicals at Walter Reed are usually announced on public schedules. In March 2020, Trump had not completed the remainder of his annual exam. He stated, “I’m so busy, I can’t do it,” stating he would go “probably over the next 90 days.” The White House has released virtually no information from the November 2017 visit, except for Trump’s weight and cholesterol count.
In October 2017, the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump was published. It was written by 27 psychiatrists and psychologists, who detail what they see as Trump’s mental state causing a danger to the nation and to individuals. In December 2019, 350 psychiatrists and other mental health professionals signed a statement that Trump had “narcissistic rage,” and “destructive impulses.” The statement said that “failing to monitor or to understand” Trump’s mental state “could lead to catastrophic outcomes.” All three head psychiatrists on the statement stated they were willing to testify during Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
Trump has made comments about Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities, which are drawing attention to his own possible cognitive issues. Trump has waved his arms during the national anthem like he was conducting an orchestra, advocated for police brutality, rage tweeted, spread conspiracy theories even when a deceased woman’s family asked him to stop, and disputes his poll approval numbers while there are nationwide protests against police brutality, amongst other behaviors. In addition, there continues to be a lack of disclosure about Trump’s November 2017 impromptu visit to Walter Reed. Trump’s gait and two-handed water behavior are concerning to many, as there may now be a clear physical manifestation in addition to behaviors witnessed before and during his presidency.