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Stumble if you’re president and 78 & social media hyenas have a field day
ottoman trip
Would the fact Dick Van Dyke falls over an ottoman every week in the intro to his TV show disqualify him from being President of the United States?

I am not senile.

I do not believe I am near death.

Nor am I in failing health.

What I am is tired of people pre-judging everyone else’s demise.

Case in point: President Joe Biden stumbles three times going up the stairs on Air Force One on Friday.

Some contend he fell three times. But as someone who has fallen and stumbled, Biden — who is clearly our president regardless of one’s political sentiments — did not do a Full Monty fall.

Goofy and Pluto stumble. Dick Van Dyke and Wile E. Coyote fall. I know from experience, lots of experience.

The fact Biden is 78 years old and the fact he stumbled led more than a few people to go nuts on social media and what passes for news shows these days on cable TV to make inferences to his health possibly failing.

News flash: We all start to die the day we are born. Get over it.

I get the reaction is about politics.

But, and I say this with all sincerity, as a natural klutz to infer that anyone who stumbles is in failing health just because they are 78 isn’t ageism as it is selective wishful thinking.

I present to you as the primary evidence the Yosemite Falls trail. It is a 7.2 mile round trip to the top with an elevation gain of 2,969 feet.

My second trip up it was the same year I could have qualified for early Social Security. There is a spot where there are “steps” of granite that are as high pitched as those going up to Air Force One. And like a klutz, I stumbled not once but four times in a row before I got my footing. A group of teens/college students passed by about that time asked if I was fine, and after I said I was they were on their way.

Long story short, an hour or so later as I was alongside the trail readjusting my backpack just where it starts to widen out at the top at the end of the sustained climb, the group of teens walked by with two of them struggling a bit to breath.

They did make fun of me when I stumbled early. Nor did I think they were somehow wimps because they were borderline wheezing like a proverbial old man.

All of us made it to the top. We all have different skills and stamina.

Rest assured they didn’t post footage of me slipping on social media and make caustic remarks that inferred I had no business hiking. Partly because there is not a lot of wireless access on the Yosemite Falls trail.  Mainly, though, it was because no one is watching me 24/7 with recording equipment as they are the president.

Keep in mind that stumbling three years ago didn’t disqualify me from doing a more treacherous 18-mile round trip hike a year later that included traversing a steep and relatively unstable boulder field that was part of a glacier’s moraine.

People of all ages have been known to stumble.  I can’t recall an age that I didn’t stumble.

And for the record I’ve hiked Yosemite Falls twice since then and didn’t stumble once. I’d like to see those clucking over Biden stumbling do the same thing regardless of their age.

So we are clear that this has nothing to do with politics I was equally revolted by those who took delight when Trump contracted COVID-19 and proclaimed it was his comeuppance.

Do not try to argue they are as different as day and night. Both project conclusions based on somebody’s misfortune and politics. They also find ways to “profit” politically from someone else’s physical pain even if for only a fleeting moment.

I get there are “legitimate” concerns about any president’s health.

It wasn’t too long ago political commentaries of the Democratic persuasion were openly wringing their hands in 1981 because Ronald Reagan at age 69 would be the oldest president ever sworn into office. They said that despite the fact the man could chop a quarter of a cord of wood when there were people half his age who would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. The fact Reagan could swing an ax and do some damage to wood alone did not serve as a standalone qualifier for his fitness to serve as president. At the same time Biden’s stumbling isn’t a sign of failing health or an indication he can’t handle the job as president.

I’m fast approaching 65 and I’m still amazed at how people older than I am have better physical stamina. I’m not taking athleticism but the ability to keep ticking at a level that would put those at 65 — or even 55, 45, 35, and 25 —  to shame.

And those older people just aren’t Biden’s age of 78. There are those in their 80s plus a few in their 90s. Not all are Jack LaLanne wannabes. Some quite frankly won the DNA sweepstakes. Others approach life with moderation.

Just because one is 78 doesn’t mean they aren’t intellectually capable, mentally fit, or physically healthy. One doesn’t have to go full steam 18 hours a day, 365 days a year to be a general, CEO, or president. While it might be a must in a time of crisis, there is a reason why there are 1,869 people who work at the White House who don’t report to another agency or executive department.

It’s the same size of a team Trump had.

In fact you could argue those that don’t act more like a CEO and were constantly in the trenches working — think Jimmy Carter as president — were not wise to do so. Do you really want whoever is at the top of the United States government to work themselves into a mental and physical frazzle?

Biden, just like his predecessors, provides his detractors with plenty of ammo to take shots at him through the spectrum of policies and politics. It is a cheap shot and disingenuous to elevate stumbling, forgetting one’s train of thought, or incorrectly referencing figures as a sign of senility and physical frailty

The presidency should not be held by a well-trained seal that is expected to perform flawlessly. But that is what we have come to expect of those in the White House where we hold under a microscope 24/7 for everything they do and keep cameras trained on them whenever the venture forth.

Gerald Ford was athletic yet he still stumbled. He also often misspoke. That may be 17 years younger than Biden’s 78 but to conclude the president is more suited for a rest home instead of the White House ignores the fact he is standing.

Tear down Biden if you must but if you believe occasionally stumbling on their feet or over words is a sign someone should be out to pasture, keep that in mind the next time you do the same thing.

Given mental and physical decline starts at any age how can you not be sure you don’t have the signs of failing health or are showing the early warning signs of dementia or senility even if you are 40?




 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at