Donald Trump went blank, abruptly stopping his speech and staring awkwardly at the audience for about 40 seconds, during a recent event in South Dakota. The incident adds to the mounting evidence that Trump, at age 77, is cognitively impaired, mentally unhinged, or both. That Trump would go silent for about 40 seconds is particularly alarming because this was the same speech where he claimed, as president, he would have the power to prosecute political opponents, even creating phony cases against them. This came about one week before Trump said he would have media organizations and their employees prosecuted for treason if they produced news reports that displeased him -- and he suggested Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, should be put to death for treason because he communicated with his Chinese counterparts (as other Trump staff members had requested) to reassure them that Trump would not invade their country following the events of January 6.
(Note: Video of Trump's 40-second pause can be viewed here.)
Polls continue to show Americans are concerned that President Joe Biden, at age 80, is too old to serve a full second term and might have eroding mental faculties. But Trump, Biden's likely opponent in the 2024 election, keeps providing evidence that his age and declining mental acuity should also be of concern. CNN's Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, analyzes these issues in an opinion piece under the headline "Trump's gaffes should raise questions about his fitness for office":
A Fox News poll released last week found that 52% of Americans don’t believe 77-year-old Donald Trump has the “mental soundness to serve” as president. That same poll showed 61% of Americans have the same concern about President Joe Biden, who is 80. But while there is extensive media coverage about Biden’s age and gaffes, Trump, for the most part, gets a pass.
For example, at a September 8 rally in South Dakota, the 2024 GOP presidential front-runner abruptly stopped mid-speech for 40 seconds as he awkwardly looked at the audience, his eyes darting around. Some of his supporters online asserted that Trump — who had just said the United States was “the greatest nation in the history of the world” — was overcome with emotion. Have you ever seen Trump overcome with emotion? It’s hard for me to buy that explanation.
Regardless of the reason for the pause, imagine if Biden had abruptly stopped a speech midway through and began looking around the audience for more than half a minute? Much of the media — and I don’t mean just right-wing outlets — would likely ask if Biden had become confused or had fallen ill, or if the teleprompter stopped working and he wasn’t mentally able to fill the time? Such a clip of Biden would probably be played nonstop on cable news and dissected by pundits and even doctors specializing in cognitive issues.
But with Trump, there was no notice, although Frank Bruni took note of his lapses into incoherence in a recent New York Times column with the headline “Trump Is Really Old, Too.”
Trump also went off the rails in a speech, ironically, not far from the White House. Writes Obeidallah:
Then there was Trump’s gaffe-filled speech Friday at the Washington, DC, Pray Vote Stand Summit that some observers dubbed a “word salad.” But that framing is not close to what happened. Trump — who faces 91 felony charges in four criminal cases — confusingly invoked former President Barack Obama’s name twice and apparently forgot World War II had already happened.
After calling Biden “cognitively impaired” (talk about irony!), Trump claimed the president was leading us into World War II. Of course, that global conflict ended in 1945, a year before Trump was born.
Trump then mistakenly referred to Obama in two instances. First Trump declared, “As you know, crooked Joe Biden and the radical left thugs have weaponized law enforcement to arrest their leading political opponent, and leading by a lot, including Obama — I’ll tell you what.” Obviously, Obama is not running for president in 2024.
Trump later stated, “With Obama, we won an election that everyone said couldn’t be won.” Apparently realizing his mistake, Trump then quickly said, “Hillary Clinton,” who was his opponent in 2016.
The media seems to have a double standard when it comes to coverage of any verbal missteps Biden makes and Trump's over-the-top ravings, And Obeidallah notes that Trump's tendency to lie relentlessly might be a sign of a delusional disorder:
Again, if Biden had made those types of mistakes, many in the media likely would have covered them as part of the narrative that the octogenarian president lacks the mental soundness to do the job for another four years.
Besides these mistakes, there’s another issue unique to Trump, which demands more attention. It’s his assertion that he won the 2020 election. Sure, he could just be claiming he won so his base will not view him as a loser, but there is a good-faith question that needs to be explored of whether such a claim is delusional.
Just last month, Trump again said he won Georgia in 2020 despite that being patently false. Trump continues to make the same claim for the overall 2020 results despite his own officials after the election — including then-Attorney General William Barr — informing him there was no evidence to support his bogus assertions. And the former president must know his 60-plus election challenges in court all failed, including in cases before Trump-appointed judges.
Further undermining Trump’s claims he won in 2020 is something he mentioned in his speech in Washington, and that is polling. Trump is now touting polls that he’s leading Biden. (In reality, the two are locked in a tight race within the margin of error in a hypothetical match-up.) Well, the polls in the weeks before the 2020 election showed Biden winning by an average of 10 points. A Fox News poll released just days before the 2020 election had Biden up by 8 percentage points. If Trump had been up by that margin and then lost in 2020, perhaps it would have bolstered his claims of election wrongdoing. Instead, the polls predicted Biden would win — and he did.
Trump’s gaffes may simply be mistakes. But his continued false claims that he won the 2020 election warn us that he is either one of the most committed liars we’ve ever seen or his views are delusional. In either case, for the sake of our nation, Trump can never again be trusted to be the commander in chief.