As President Joe Biden was making his way offstage after completing the graduation ceremony of Air Force Academy's graduates he tripped over a sandbag which went unnoticed.
The next moment – one that many who are dear to the President have been afraid of behind closed doors – was captured on camera and spread like wildfire online even faster than The White House could respond.
The President falling offstage in front of everyone was crystal clear, and White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt took only a few minutes after images began spreading online before taking to Twitter in an attempt at minimizing their impact.
While shaking hands on stage there was a sandbag which caused him to fall according to LaBolt's response after seeing the video.
With the help of Air Force personnel, Biden soon got back on his feet and the current political environment, which is already highly polarized due in part to the President's age of 80 as he seeks re-election for his second term, has a high potential for lingering tensions. Last week was not only about demonstrating the calling cards of Biden (embodied by a debt ceiling agreement that gained significantly more votes than projected), but it also exposed his vulnerabilities.
David Axelrod credited Joe Biden for his impressive record and astute handling of the debt-ceiling negotiation which showcased his wealth of experience. His discussion on the topic of wisdom is thought-provoking.
In any case he went on to say, 'Aging entails specific liabilities.' This type of incident is going to get blown out of proportion. This is more worrisome than the case of him being just twenty years younger, so this load should be resolved by him. Meeting this challenge will require an ongoing effort.
Questions about Biden’s age can’t be shaken. And clips like the ones that came Thursday don’t help with the White House’s task of trying to dismiss those subterranean concerns from within the party.
Even after a successful midterm election cycle last fall, Biden’s approval rating remains stuck around 40 percent. And recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans would prefer a different Democratic candidate next year. Perhaps as much as the economy, national security or cultural issues, it is Biden’s age that could be a determining factor for voters. That’s true even if Republicans re-nominate former President Donald Trump, who is 76.
The swift reaction of the Republican Party in exploiting this opportunity does not come as a surprise, as a video showing the president falling down and being helped up was tweeted by numerous accounts including that of the Republican National Committee as well as that for House Judiciary. In addition to this sentence being posted by Jack Dorsey who was once Twitter's CEO and he also wrote a tweet advocating for open Democrat primaries and debates, there's an injustice happening to all parties involved.
How fast those devoted to President Biden who were either in or out of the White House took up defensive positions might tell us more about him. The team known for ignoring Twitter chatter rapidly turned their attention towards it in order to paint a picture of the President’s fall being unremarkable and him persisting with an extended ceremony indicative of stamina. As per Ron Klian's tweet mentioning Joe Biden stood on stage for nearly two hours shaking hands with graduates and later tripped by accident when moved towards few guests but there's nothing much to worry about.
LaBolt's predecessor as communications director, Kate Bedingfield, tweeted a few times about the incident. "As far as I'm aware, I've never once in my entire life tripped over anything. These senior Democrats have undoubtedly not either. These people are mountain goats, she wrote. A video of Obama falling as he ascended some stairs to approach the stage at a rally was also tweeted by Bedingfield. We all know how this turned out for President Obama's re-election. "Shhhhh don't tell 'top Democrats.'" she wrote.
It's true that Biden is not the first president to trip or fall while on the job or to become the subject of a wider public debate about their health and fitness for office, even though the speed and volume of Team Biden's response may have belied their apparent nonchalance about the incident. After tripping walking down the stairs from Air Force One in the rain, President Gerald Ford, a former college athlete, was parodied to hilarious effect on Saturday Night Live by a continually falling Chevy Chase. Only 62 years old at the time, Ford. During the 1992 election, President George H.W. Bush similarly lost his balance while bowling in Milwaukee. And other senior presidents, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, saw their advisers go to great lengths to hide a variety of frailties.
In the summer of 2020, a video of Trump stumbling and faltering during a commencement ceremony at West Point went viral, sparking questions about his fitness and some jeering from then-candidate Biden. The ramp had been "very long and steep," Trump claimed, adding, "the last thing I was going to do was 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with." Trump seems mindful of the potential political fallout.
During a campaign stop on Thursday in Iowa, Trump responded to the news of Biden's fall by saying it was "too bad" and "not inspiring," while also displaying a hint of self-awareness by making an indirect reference to his own experience. The former president remarked, "I hope he wasn't hurt." "The entire situation is absurd; exercise caution. Even if you have to tiptoe down a ramp, you don't want that.
Biden has previously slipped. The most prominent incident occurred in March 2021 when he repeatedly fell while getting on Air Force One to take off for Atlanta. He looked around as he got to his cabin and yelled a four-letter obscenity, according to someone who saw the moment of rage.
The president's advisers frequently claim in public that his age is unimportant, praising both his alleged youthful vigour and the fact that voters in 2020 chose to elect him. But since then, Biden's body has slowed down. The president steps more cautiously than he did before fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs during the transition, according to his doctor, who also noted that his gait has tightened.
Biden has not mentally slowed down, according to the majority of those in his space, but he is now more easily tired. They claim it causes him to appear more weak than he actually is and causes his lifelong stammer to return. Additionally, assistants have taken care not to overload his schedule. According to two persons who are familiar with his schedule but are not authorized to speak publicly about it, his days rarely begin early and frequently include downtime in the middle.
Andrew Bates, the deputy press secretary for the White House, referred to that as "laughably untrue" and mentioned Biden's itinerary. President Biden has travelled more in 2023 than President Obama did in the same amount of time in 2011, according to Bates, including to a conflict zone in Ukraine as he worked to raise our standing internationally. "You saw his capable leadership when he tricked congressional Republicans into promising not to reduce Medicare at the State of the Union address, which was broadcast live on national television. You can see that in the fact that he shook the hands of 921 Air Force cadets today before momentarily falling over a sandbag and immediately standing back up.
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