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Monday, March 11, 2024

Trump Hates People with Disabilities

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.   In this campaign, a number of posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally.

John Hendrickson at The Atlantic:
Former president Donald Trump, perhaps threatened by President Joe Biden’s well-received State of the Union address, mocked his opponent’s lifelong stutter at a rally in Georgia yesterday. “Wasn’t it—didn’t it bring us together?” Trump asked sarcastically. He kept the bit going, slipping into a Biden caricature. “‘I’m gonna bring the country tuh-tuh-tuh-together,’” Trump said, straining and narrowing his mouth for comedic effect.

Trump has made a new habit of this. “‘He’s a threat to d-d-democracy,’” Trump said in his vaudeville Biden character at a January rally in Iowa. That jibe was also a response to a big Biden speech—one tied to the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. (Guess who the he was in that sentence.)

Stuttering is one of many disabilities to have entered Trump’s crosshairs. In 2015, he infamously made fun of a New York Times reporter’s disabled upper-body movements. Three years later, as president, when planning a White House event for military veterans, he asked his staff not to include amputees wounded in combat, saying, “Nobody wants to see that.” Stuttering is a neurological disorder that affects roughly 3 million Americans. Biden has stuttered since childhood. He has worked to manage his disfluent speech for decades, but, contrary to the story he tells about his life, he has never fully “beat” it.

A few years ago, I wrote:

He displayed that attitude long before he became president. As his niece Mary Trump recounts in her new book, “Too Much and Never Enough,” Trump cut off his nephew’s medical coverage after he challenged the will of family patriarch Fred Trump. The nephew had a baby son with a severe neurological disorder. A reporter for the New York Daily News asked Trump how he felt about coldly stopping health insurance for a disabled infant. “I can’t help that. It’s cold when someone sues my father.” The nephew and his wife eventually settled with Trump. Their son now lives with cerebral palsy.
Barbara Res, who ran construction at the Trump Organization, recalled Trump talking to an architect in a Trump Tower elevator. He asked the architect about the raised dots next to the floor numbers. When the architect explained that they were Braille, Trump shouted, “Get rid of the (expletive) braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower.’

Trump has denied using the R-word as a slur. That’s another provable lie, or as James Comey might say: Lordy, there are tapes. In April 2004, he told shock jock Howard Stern: “But you know, I was criticized in one magazine, where the writer was retarded and said, ‘Donald Trump put up seven million dollars.’” A few months later, he started to use the word again but cut himself off: “I have a golf pro who’s mentally ret—I mean he’s like, really not a smart guy.” Several sources told The Daily Beast that he repeatedly used the term against Marlee Matlin, the Oscar-winning deaf actress who competed on his show, “Celebrity Apprentice.