An Ill Wind
Blows Trump Good
March 14th 2021
From the campaign of 1944 onward until April 12, 1945, rumors about the state of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s health mounted. Although still in his early 60s, FDR had been president for twelve years, seeing the United States through two of the greatest crises in its history, from a wheelchair, smoking two packs of Camels a day, and consuming enough liquor that by today’s standards, he would be considered a problem drinker.
He gave a speech on an aircraft carrier in Seattle in March, wearing leg braces so he could stand in a cold wet wind. He was stuck just as he began his speech with a fairly major siege of angina pectoris, sending waves of pain through his chest. Not only did he keep his balance on the heaving deck, but he somehow managed to finish his speech, although the horrified audience could clearly see something was terribly wrong.
But with typical personal resiliency, he looked and seemingly felt fine just fifteen minutes later.
A few days later a press photographer managed one of the rare candid shots that got past FDRs staff. The shot showed a man nearing his end–”eyes like poached eggs, jaw agape” as William Manchester described it. For a nation used to the ear-to-ear grin, the chin thrust out, the cigarette holder at a jaunty angle, the image was deeply disturbing. FDR himself was shaken by it, and snarled of the photographer, “They’re nothing but a bunch of goddammed ghouls.” Two weeks later he was dead. America was shocked, but not particularly surprised. Most people sensed he had worked himself to death, and he had done it for them.
Donald Trump, just seven weeks out of office, reminded me of that March 1945 photograph. He had a fund raiser at Mar-A-Lago yesterday, and some of his sycophantic attendees snapped some shots of him that they honestly thought to be conveying strength and certitude. The first shows a hesitant-looking Trump being escorted in by Lara Trump, looking almost humanly concerned for someone who has been ripping off a charity for puppies for two years. She is holding Trump’s hand, both to steady him and to guide him into the room. Nick Adams, who took the shot, wrote “President Trump is looking better than ever before!! He is getting in shape for 2024 and the liberals are freaking out!!” There’s a large discoloration on Trump’s right cheek, maybe a bruise, or perhaps he smeared his makeup. His jaw is agape, and what little there was of his neckline has vanished altogether.
The second image is even more disturbing. He is looking around blankly, isolated in a crowd of admirers, in a pose usually seen in people with Parkinson’s or dementia, leaning forward, arms dangling out in front. My own reaction to the image was, “He looks like he should be wandering around a rest home demanding to know who stole the chain out of his toilet.”
Bridgette Gabriel took that one, and wrote, “President Trump looks fantastic! Stronger than ever!”
Gaslighting is a staple with Trump and his crowd, but even those two had to be looking at the man and seeing that he isn’t “in shape” or “fantastic.” He’s aged 10 years in seven weeks, and he doesn’t even look like he knows where he is.
In short, he looks like a man who is at death’s door.
I would forget about him running in 2024. Ain’t gonna happen. He’s going to be fighting to keep out of jail, and to keep even 1% of his wealth after the civil suits have run. He’s forcing a revolt within the GOP by demanding funds go to him rather than the party, and eventually, sooner rather than later, he’ll have to fight that war just to maintain any political viability. And of course, he runs a significant risk of being tried as a traitor within the next year.
Don’t expect pity from me. He’s earned all the grief he will face, including an early death.
But I saw those images, and immediately eliminated him as any sort of viable force in American politics going forward. He’s dying, and the inchoate rage of a movement he formed is dying with him.