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Trump isn't aging well

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CNN's Chris Cillizza analyzes the importance of President Donald Trump's slow descent down a ramp following his commencement speech at West Point.

Posted: Jun 16, 2020 12:11 PM
Updated: Jun 16, 2020 12:11 PM

Donald Trump is not coping well.

As he turned 74 last weekend, the oldest man ever to assume the presidency got all defensive about how he looked walking down a ramp at West Point. In truth, his slow-mo shuffle didn't reveal anything that should embarrass a senior citizen. What was truly troubling was what Trump revealed the next day, when he shouted on Twitter: "THE SILENT MAJORITY IS STRONGER THAN EVER!!!"

The tweet harked back to Richard Nixon, who was president when the term "silent majority" was first used in 1969. It revealed how even in these troubled times, with the pandemic death toll passing 115,000 and citizens crying out for an end to police violence against minorities, the President is stuck in the past, out of step with a country that has changed practically overnight.

Some of the change is evident in the streets, where citizens of every race, religion, ethnicity and age group have joined a nationwide protest movement that recognizes police violence against African Americans and insists that Black Lives Matter. More proof of a changed society can be found in a recent Gallup poll that found four-in-10 support some aspects of socialism. Trump even seems to be losing the support of high-ranking military leaders as he refuses to consider renaming bases named for Confederate officers who waged war against the United States.

Trump is so incapable of adapting to change that he's been lapped by NASCAR: It recently banned the Confederate flag, which has long been waved by fans at its tracks. Even the National Football League, which engaged in a long row with players who knelt to protest racial injustice as the National Anthem was played, has reversed field.

Locked in his increasingly isolated social and political views, Trump sticks to his old tricks, like calling on the "silent majority" because he's apparently incapable of seeing modern America. For those who don't remember, or never learned about the term's origin, the "silent majority" was first invoked by President Nixon to argue that most Americans supported the war in Vietnam. In fact, polls done at the time showed that most believed the country's involvement in Vietnam had been a mistake.

Similarly wrong was Nixon's claim that his "majority" was silent. Pro-war Americans argued their side of things in political debates and kitchen-table discussions. They paraded and rallied, and a few would join in an organized attack -- the Hard Hat Riot of 1970 -- on anti-war activists.

If the phrase "silent majority" was so inaccurate, what about it would appeal to Trump? Well, it's not that he was all for America's war effort. As Trump told interviewer Piers Morgan he "was never a fan" of the war. It's more likely that, as a marketing expert, the reality TV host who made "You're fired!" his catch phrase loves the way that Nixon's two-word term communicated so much to his political base. Nixon's silent majority was, everyone knew, middle class, middle-aged, Christian, white and conservative, and they supported him.

As Trump leans on the term he reveals himself to be not only nostalgic, which is always a hazard for the aging, but a victim of another common problem among older folks: inflexibility. To be clear, this problem can afflict people of all ages, and it's also true that many seniors possess nimble minds. However, Trump has long shown he is rigidly attached to a bygone era, and has demonstrated an inability to recognize change and adapt to it.

Take, for example, the political injury he suffered when he scheduled a rally for Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. As much of America knows, the date marks the annual Juneteenth celebration of African Americans' emancipation. (The name derives from the day when Union forces notified slaves in Texas that they were free.) Long recognized in black communities, the celebration of Juneteenth has gained popularity in most corners of the nation. Last year the Republican National Committee marked the day with a proclamation.

Trump's Senate ally Tim Scott has said the President didn't understand the significance of Juneteenth (he changed the date of the rally when people pointed it out). This is a sign of a man living in an isolated past. So, too, is Trump's selection of Tulsa for his campaign rally. Tulsa is the site of what has been called the worst racial massacre in US history. White mobs burned more than 1,000 black homes and businesses. Deaths were estimated at between 100 and 300.

For Trump to pick Tulsa, especially when the country is in the middle of coast-to-coast protests over police violence against black Americans, reflects either a colossal lack of awareness or monstrous cruelty.

The way Trump acts and speaks often makes him look like a mean old man. Take his administration's decision to change the rules so health insurance companies can discriminate against transgender people.

Many larger insurers opposed the change, which was announced on Saturday. Two days later, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender people.

This Supreme Court is never on the leading edge of radical change, but even the justices seated on this court -- six of whom qualify for Medicare -- showed they understand America in a way that the president does not.

Our President's inflexible mind is on display every time he calls out for "law and order" in response to civil rights protests that are overwhelmingly peaceful and supported by great majorities of Americans. (Perhaps Trump's mind is stuck in the 60s.)

He did himself a similar disservice when during a recent press conference where he was questioned by female reporters he appeared to muse nostalgically about the days when women were meek and retiring.

Again, we must all recognize that Trump's rigidity says nothing about all older people. (Follow the 84-year-old Dalai Lama on Twitter and you'll see what I mean.) However, in the President's case the inability to adapt does seem to be the sign of a man who is not aging well. He appears even more defensive and reactionary than he was when he was elected.

And like an out-of-touch founder of a business he's no longer capable of running, he could do a whole lot of damage on his way out the door.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 255125

Reported Deaths: 5574
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17197175
Hinds16280322
Harrison13502193
Rankin10749211
Jackson10407183
Lee8819141
Madison8262162
Jones6375110
Forrest5992119
Lauderdale5873180
Lowndes5381116
Lafayette496692
Lamar487565
Washington4800123
Bolivar3978108
Oktibbeha393880
Panola370779
Pontotoc365353
Monroe3543105
Warren353498
Union344760
Marshall342665
Neshoba3383152
Pearl River329799
Leflore3004105
Lincoln297685
Sunflower284969
Hancock273459
Tate272462
Alcorn264053
Pike263577
Itawamba262959
Scott246645
Yazoo245955
Prentiss245652
Copiah241949
Tippah241750
Simpson235767
Coahoma233754
Leake231164
Grenada218470
Covington213071
Marion212072
Adams205870
Wayne201331
Winston200564
George199338
Attala193759
Newton192842
Tishomingo186359
Chickasaw183944
Jasper170835
Holmes168767
Clay159433
Stone143621
Tallahatchie141034
Clarke138960
Calhoun136121
Smith120823
Yalobusha117034
Walthall112336
Noxubee110522
Greene110229
Montgomery109634
Carroll104521
Lawrence102617
Perry102231
Amite98025
Webster92424
Tunica86721
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis84825
Humphreys83024
Benton81823
Kemper77220
Quitman6918
Franklin66615
Choctaw60513
Wilkinson58425
Jefferson54319
Sharkey43017
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 424028

Reported Deaths: 6121
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62258921
Mobile30381549
Madison27160186
Tuscaloosa20779267
Montgomery19049305
Shelby18572114
Baldwin16346182
Lee12515101
Morgan12260113
Etowah11757168
Calhoun11161200
Marshall10199107
Houston8630148
Cullman8036105
Limestone802874
Elmore7849101
DeKalb768897
Lauderdale760083
St. Clair7555120
Talladega6180108
Walker5903174
Jackson581341
Colbert533573
Blount530883
Autauga519855
Coffee443956
Dale398581
Franklin367548
Chilton337665
Russell331710
Covington327768
Escambia319342
Dallas303396
Chambers284269
Clarke282133
Tallapoosa2617107
Pike249429
Marion246250
Lawrence244247
Winston227335
Bibb216247
Geneva202535
Marengo199729
Pickens197031
Hale176442
Barbour173036
Butler170258
Fayette169026
Cherokee160530
Henry154421
Monroe145617
Randolph140735
Washington137726
Clay126745
Crenshaw119544
Lamar118219
Cleburne117723
Macon115035
Lowndes110735
Wilcox103121
Bullock99128
Perry97719
Conecuh94420
Sumter89126
Greene76123
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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