One event I missed when I was working on my book occurred when Donald Trump mocked Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition called arthrogryposis, that limits flexibility in his arms, for his disability.   Kovaleski is a reporter for the New York Times and had criticized candidate Trump for fabricating the story that thousands of Arab Americans had stood outdoors in New Jersey, cheering as the World Trade towers fell to earth.

Any individual with a disabling disease, and we are many, should have seen the handwriting on the wall as we contemplated our futures. Able- bodied Americans should have joined our ranks but did not. The chronically healthy apparently had bigger fish to fry. That long moment of ridicule was revealing.

For those of us who wish to see the NIH budget, frozen since the Bush war in Iraq, dramatically increased to battle the terrorist assaults on our bodies by disease, we better face the fact that we have no friend in the White House.

In my hundreds of blog posts, I have stayed far from politics. All of us have other battles to fight. But for me, it is increasingly disappointing that our commander-in-chief would rather build a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants, who are dwindling in numbers, than help the hundreds of millions who live with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

I do not intend to write about politics again.   I will point out the sick exist in sufficient numbers to be heard. We will not agree on everything in this space, but I believe basic decency is imperiled. It is clear how little of us Trump believes. How we regard ourselves is being tested.





24 Responses to Trumped

  1. Connie February 19, 2017 at 12:32 am #

    My husband has MS, and we are also grandparents of a granddaughter with cerebral palsy. Donald Trump mocking someone with a disability, and then denying it, hit close to home. This mocking incident was one of many incidents that should have tanked Mr. Trump’s candidacy. How could so many of our fellow citizens have voted for such a man? It is almost unbelievable what we see on the news on a daily basis.

  2. steve rubin February 19, 2017 at 2:04 am #

    I have MS, a son who had CP and passed away 2/27/16. After a 15 month battle from a disease I never heard of called stiff person syndrome. I don’t want to blame anyone, I just hope Mr Trump and others think before acting.

    • Jan March 4, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

      Want to extend sympathies re your son; last year, but a year is not so very long ago.

      • steve rubin March 8, 2017 at 12:57 am #

        Very kind.

  3. Andrew February 19, 2017 at 2:26 am #

    Thank you for posting this commentary. I realize the hot potato issue of politics, but when it effects our lives directly, not speaking up is negligent. The theme of NIH funding is a matter of advocacy with Congress as well as the Administrative branch. Issues of access to health care, and affordable medication will not just happen some day if we hope. I appreciate everyone who speaks up for these issues, as well as demanding respect for all persons with disabilities. If it is offensive to seem critical of someones partisan sacred cow, I recall a statement from a professor many years ago, “sacred cows make the best hamburger.”

    • richarde m. cohen March 9, 2017 at 8:18 am #



  4. Sue in TX February 19, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

    I was really surprised to realize these past weeks that democracy is in fact fragile. And I found it chilling to see that in our great country that there are some who attempt to intimidate or try to silence those that merely question our leaders. Our country has many views on health care delivery and solutions to improve education and reduce poverty. I am not really sure what is the best solution but all Americans have the right to be heard and express opinions about these important issues. Our press is not our enemy for god sakes, propaganda news is! We can’t dismiss or ignore the current war on our democracy, lets speak up, demand respect for all Americans.

  5. Betty February 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    I don’t believe that anyone has a friend in the White House these days.

  6. Pat Harper February 21, 2017 at 6:30 am #

    To quote Phil Ochs, “There but for fortune go I”.

  7. Jane February 21, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    What’s happening in our country now is scary. Thank you, Richard, for voicing the concerns many of us have.

  8. Amy Hunt February 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    He’s a man-baby that enjoys taunting others that he views as smaller and weaker than he is. Can’t believe he’s president.

    • richarde m. cohen March 9, 2017 at 8:20 am #

      I think we got what we paid for.


  9. Lazarus February 23, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    Thank you for the post. Take heart.

  10. Yvonne February 23, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    He doesn’t understand chronic illness or preexisting conditions. Neither does most of our legislatures. They have great medical insurance, which we as chronic illness suffered, pay for as part of their salary packages. This entire conversation about affordable Care and money allocation to NIH budget will be on hold for at least 4 yrs. So sad.

  11. Jan March 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    Ah, “perspective.” That word has been on my mind lately. Mightily. Thanks to the airlines cutting out reasonably priced bereavement fares, we just returned from thirty (as in 30) total hours riding in the car (plus some brief stops) to attend a memorial service of a friend from our wedding two decades ago who passed recently from a battle with ALS. He was my age, to the year. (And far too young, I think).

    Now, what we endure is not fun – but his was truly a battle (as it was for his family, too). So am I as strong at my own broken places? (Sometimes; sometimes not). And how do I “chase hope?” Verses from Psalm 73:26 and Romans 12:12 from his program sum it up rather well. I didn’t say easily, or with complete understanding. But well.

  12. Jan March 4, 2017 at 6:15 am #

    And one other thing… our friend was an engineer who, I understand, was involved in an experiment to communicate by “typing with his eyes” — If I searched correctly, that would be a BCI trial (Brain-Computer Interface), and there are 18 research labs for it in the U.S.

    Wow, talk about the desire to communicate, to DO something productive, amidst an extremely challenging situation. Is that not amazing impact? Does that not provide incentive?

  13. Jan March 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    And finally, I just listened to a Ted talk by Lux Narayan in which he analyzed the obituaries of 2,000 people listed in the New York Times, including the named famous and those not known to most.

    Toward the end he talked about, “Making a positive dent in the fabric of life…” and questioned, “How am I using my talents to help society?”

    Our friend used his talents, and amidst incredible hardship. And me? Large or seemingly small, I think it matters, provides purpose.

  14. Dale March 7, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

    I work with a guy who is very ‘solution’ focused. If someone comes to him with a problem he wants them to have some sort of tentative solution with it, even if he comes up with a different one, before he will listen. It gets people really thinking rather than just complaining.
    I like that approach and am now trying to adopt it. All the marches and protests, in my opinion, would have been time a whole lot more productive if folks involved brought a canned good for their service center, or read to a child about the positive things still left about our country, or planted trees, or did something, anything no matter how small, that would contribute something productive to the world. Kids are very confused and some frightened by all the adult turmoil they see right now. Most of us grew up having been told if we were good and studied hard we could grow up to be President one day if we really wanted to. Or an astronaut. Or a policeman. Or whatever we strived for. Trump at some point decided he wanted to be President. And that’s what he is right now. All the hand wringing and angst isn’t going to change that at least today so maybe we can put that aside and figure out a way to make things better within our own powers while Cheetohead hopefully learns some manners and hopefully has some epiphany about the plight of so many like us.

  15. Dale March 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm #

    I bet Melania would really like Ann Romney…

    • richarde m. cohen March 9, 2017 at 8:23 am #

      Who doesn’t like Ann Romney?


  16. steve rubin March 8, 2017 at 1:02 am #

    All interesting comments, I wonder if Ann would have made a positive diff? Have hope Melania does.

  17. Christopher March 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    Difficult issues.

  18. Anon March 9, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Medical INSURANCE is not medical CARE, and there needs to be a distinction. Better and continued funding of the NIH should not be predicated on business decisions either–health does not respond to balance sheets. These crazy characters on The Hill don’t exist in a vacuum, we all facilitated their journey to leadership roles either directly or indirectly. Now it’s more difficult to find ears to feed since few are open to reason, and critical thinking is seen as profane–a phenomenon fostered and bolstered by ubiquitous access to virtual technology. There are still people trying, but the job is a hell of a lot harder.

    It is impossible to be outspoken in a culture of outspoken people.

  19. Gala March 10, 2017 at 10:50 pm #

    I do not think Trump mocked disabled person. It is his moves, when he is not sure what to tell.