Today Donald Trump held his first political rally since the coronavirus pandemic forced him to stop hosting public events all the way back in March.
The much-hyped rally was interesting and newsworthy for all sorts of reasons, from Trump's candid musings on the virus to his surprisingly underwhelming crowd.
But my personal highlight was the whopping 14 minutes Trump spent talking about his recent visit to West Point, the US military academy.
The President went there to deliver a commencement speech to the graduating class of cadets, but media coverage of the event instead focused on a couple of weird moments.
Video footage showed Trump seemingly struggling to descend a gently sloped ramp, and to drink a glass of water.
As you might recall, the President publicly addressed the incident last week, saying the ramp was "very long and steep", had "no handrail" and was "very slippery".
He also claimed to have "run down" the final three metres, which was a weird thing to say, as the footage quite obviously showed it was false.
In any case, after that response from the President, the whole, ridiculous "Trump walked slowly down a ramp" thing appeared to be behind us.
Yet it seems to have been weighing heavily on Trump's mind. I say that because, as mentioned, he spent a quarter of an hour venting about it at today's rally.
Usually, we would chop up Trump's monologue into a few short, easily digestible quotes, because that is how the news generally works. Politician delivers borderline incoherent stream of consciousness; reporter picks out the important bits; you get to move on with your life.
In this case, however, I thought it was worth transcribing Trump's entire monologue, because breaking it up would rob it of its full effect.
I present to you, without further comment, the most powerful man on the planet talking about that time people filmed him walking slowly down a ramp. Enjoy.
Oh, and while I've tried to capture tone and inflection as best I can here, I would also encourage you to watch the full excerpt from Trump's speech. You'll find it in the video player at the top of the page. It is ... quite something.
DONALD TRUMP'S FULL MONOLOGUE
"You know, it was interesting. To show you how fake they are. You might have seen it. So last week they called me, and they say, 'Sir, West Point. West Point. We're ready.' I said, 'Oh that's right, I have to make a commencement speech at West Point.' You know they delayed it for six weeks because of COVID. So they delayed it.
"And I went there, 1106 cadets were graduating, and beautiful. Beautiful cadets. So, just to show you how bad the fake news is. So, they say to me, 'Sir! We're ready to go.' I say, 'Let's go!' This is after saying hello to a lot of cadets; inspecting little areas of a building. That was very exciting, actually, it's beautiful, very old. Studied a lot of our great generals, some of our presidents that went there. West Point is beautiful. Right on the Hudson River.
"But after an hour – the general that runs it is a fantastic guy – after an hour, we land, we do some more inspections and they say, 'Sir are you ready?' 'Yes, I am.' So we walk like, the equivalent of about three blocks, which was fine. We go on stage, which is fine. They make some speeches, then I make a speech. It lasted a long time, I don't know, maybe 45 minutes, maybe longer, I don't know, but a long time.
"The sun is pouring down on me. OK? But they said to me before the speech, 'Sir! Would you like to salute each cadet, each single cadet? Or maybe they'll be in groups of two. Would you like to salute? Like this, yes. (He demonstrates a salute for the crowd.) Like this. (He demonstrates it two more times.)
"Almost six hundred times. Do you know what that is? Six huuuundred tiiiiiiiimes. Thank god they were in twos. Cause let me tell you, you do that six hundred times, you go home and you say – it's like doing a workout without a weight, right? Six hundred times.
"So I did that. Then the incredible helicopters, brand new, gorgeous helicopters, the Apaches and the other new ones that we just bought, so they fly over. And the kids throw the hats in the air, it's beautiful, it really is, and it was a beautiful day. And we're all finished. I was on the stage for hours. Hours! Sun – I came home, I had a nice tan. Meaning I had a nice sunburn. The sun's going right, like that. (He motions towards his face.)
"But I make the speech. Right? I salute for, probably an hour-and-a-half. Maybe more, but around that. Watch, if I'm off by two minutes, they'll say, 'He exaaaaagerated! It was only an hour and 25 minutes. He exaggerated, he lieeeeed. He lied, he's a liar.' These people are sick, the fake news. (The crowd boos the reporters behind them.)
"So then, I finish saluting my final salute, I said, 'Thank goodness, thank you very much.' (He looks to the heavens.) But think of it. So, essentially, almost six hundred times. Now, the general says, 'Sir, are you ready?' I said, 'I'm ready general. Where are we going now?' You have to understand, I left early in the morning to get there. Now it's sort of late in the afternoon.
"A lot of these fakers were with us, so they know. (He points to the reporters, and the crowd jeers again.) He said, 'Sir! We can now leave the stage.' I said, 'That's great general, let's go, I'll follow youuuu.'
"And he goes like this, 'Right here, sir.' And I walk off. (He walks away from the microphone, re-enacting the scene. He then shows the crowd the bottom of his shoe, pointing to it and mouthing the word 'leather' before returning to the mic. The crowd cheers.)
"And the stage was higher than this one. And the ramp was probably 10 yards (about nine metres) long. I say, 'Generaaaal!' Now you've got to understand, I've got the whole corps of cadets looking at me. And I want them to love their President; I did this big thing. I love them, I love them, they're incredible, and they do.
"I said, 'General! I've got myself a problem, general. Because I'm wearing leather-bottomed shoes.' Which is good if you're walking on flat surfaces. It's not good for ramps. And if I fall down – look at all those press back there, look at that. (He once again points at the reporters, sparking more boos.)
"And this was a steel ramp. You all saw it, because everybody saw it. This was a steel ramp, it had no handrail. It was like an ice-skating rink. And I said, 'General, I have a problem.' And he didn't understand that at first.
"I said, 'There's no way!' You understand, I just saluted almost six hundred times, I just made a big speech. I sat for other speeches. I'm being baked. I'm being baked like a cake! I said, 'General, there's no way I can make it down that ramp without falling on my ass, general. I have no railing.' True. It's true!
"So I said, 'Is there like something else around?' 'Sir, the ramp is ready to go! Grab me, sir! Grab me.' I didn't really want to grab him. You know why? Because I said, 'That'll be a story too.' So now I have a choice, I can stay up there for another couple of hours and wait till I'm rescued, or I can go down this really steep, really, really really – it's an ice-skating rink, it's brutal.
"So I said, 'General, get ready, because I may grab you so fast.' Because I can't fall with the fake news watching. If I fall – I remember when President Ford fell out of the plane. You remember? I remember when another president, nice man, threw up in Japan. And they did slow motion replays. True! Right? It's true. 'I don't want that, general.'
"Now he's standing, big strong guy, and he's got these shoes. But they're loaded with rubber on the bottom. Cause I looked. The first thing I did, I looked at his shoes. Then I looked at mine. Very, very slippery.
"So I end up saying, 'OK general, let's go, I will only grab you if I need you.' That's not a good story; falling would be a disaster. It turned out to be worse than anything. I would have been better off if I fell and slid down the damn ramp. Right?
"So what happens, is I start the joouuurney! Inch by inch, right? (He re-enacts walking again.) And I was really bent over too, you know, I didn't like that. I didn't like this picture. This picture I'm sure will be an ad by the fakers. So I was bent over, right? (He re-enacts being bent over. The crowd laughs appreciatively.)
"And then we finally reached almost the end! And the fake news, the most dishonest human beings, they cut it off. You know why? Because when I was 10 feet (about three metres) short, I said, 'General, I'm sorry, I'm -,' and then I ran down the rest, right? I looked very handsome. That was the only good part.
"I wouldn't want to run down the whole thing, because a fall there would definitely be bad. So I took these little steps, I raaaaan down the last 10. And by the way, their tape – take a look. In almost every instance, it ends just before I run. And they said, it was the number one trending story.
"I call my wife. I said, 'How good was that speech? I thought it was a-', hey look, I'll tell you when I make good ones and bad ones. Like, so far, tonight I'm average. But we're having fun. We're having fun. So far tonight.
"But I call my wife and I said, 'How good was it darling?' She said, 'You're trending number one.' I said, to our great First Lady I said, 'Let me ask you a question. Was it that good, the speech, that I'm trending number one? Because I felt it was really good.' 'No no, they don't even mention the speech. They mention the fact that you may have Parkinson's disease. It's true. It's truuuee! (More pointing and more booing.)
"They say, 'There's something wrooong with our President!' I'll let you know if there's something wrong, OK? I'll let you know if there's something – I'll tell you what, there's something wrong with Biden. That I can tell you. So then my wife said, 'Well, it wasn't only the ramp. Did you have water?'
"I said, 'Yeah, I was speaking for a long tiiiiime. I didn't want to drink it, but I wanted to wet my lips a little bit.' You know, you're working hard up there with the sun, poouuuring down on you. I love this location, the sun's like this. (He motions towards his face again.) This way they save on lighting, right? That's why they did it, probably.
"So what happens is, I said, 'What does it have to do with water?' They said, 'You couldn't lift your hand up to your mouth with water.' I said, 'I just saluted six hundred tiiimes! Like this. (He salutes again.) And this was before I saluted. So what's the problem?' And she said, 'Well I know what you did. You had on a very good red tie. That's sort of expensive.' It's silk, because they look better. They have a better sheen to them.
"And I don't want to get water on the tie. And I don't want to drink much. So I lift it up, the water. I see we have a little glass of water, where the hell did this water come from? (He produces a glass of water from under the lectern.) Where did it come from!? And I look down at my tie, because I've done it. I've taken water, and it spills down onto your tie, it doesn't look good for a long time. And frankly the tie is never the same.
"So I put it up to my lip, and then I say – because I don't want it! Just in case. (He re-enacts taking a sip of water.) And they gave me another disease. They gave me another disease. (He drinks some water. The crowd goes bananas. He throws the glass away. The crowd starts chanting, 'Four more years!')
"Anyway that's a long story. But here's the story. I have lived with the ramp and the water since I left West Point. Not one media group said I made a good speech, or I made a great speech.
"But the kids loved it because they broke their barrier, which wasn't good in terms of COVID. But they broke their barrier and they wanted to shake hands, they wanted to – and I don't want to tell anybody, but there were a couple of kids, they put out their hand; I actually shook their hand. OK? I actually shook it. Cause they were excited. They were excited!
"They were with their President, they were excited. The most beautiful, young people. Men, women. The most beautiful young people you've ever seen. Think about how you feel, if you're me.
"So I go there. 'How did I do?' 'Sir, that was a great speech.' You know, all my people. 'Sir, that was one of your best, that was great.' And I say, 'That's great, I agree, it was a good speech. I liked that speech.'
"They don't mention the speech. But they have me going down this ramp at an inch at a time. It's soooo unfair. It really is. Soooo unfair. They are among the most dishonest people anywhere on Earth. They're bad people. Bad people. OK, that's enough of that. I wanted to tell that story."