Trump spent one of every eight minutes in Tulsa complaining about coverage of his West Point speech

Single-issue ability-to-drink-water voters, rest assured.

Before Saturday night, President Trump hadn’t held a rally since early March, one of the longest droughts of his presidency (and, for that matter, the campaign that preceded it). He’d been champing at the bit to get back to it, repeatedly setting aside concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic to suggest that the time to hold rallies had come.

But, if his actual speech is any guide, it was also to defend his ability to walk down a ramp and to drink water.

For 14 minutes and 15 seconds of his one hour, 43-minute speech, Trump walked through his speech one week ago at the U.S. Military Academy. That speech was meant to show a powerful commander in chief leading newly minted Army second lieutenants in a shared appreciation of country. Instead, two unrelated moments from the speech — one in which Trump gingerly used two hands to drink a glass of water and one in which he slowly and carefully descended a ramp to leave the stage — caught the nation’s attention. A speech intended to show Trump’s strength instead conveyed frailty, as his campaign was repeatedly trying to depict Biden as old and feeble.

So, nearly 23 minutes into his speech in Tulsa, Trump suddenly transitioned to a lengthy exposition about the nefarious news media.

It’s important to note that Trump was largely battling a straw man. Yes, there was a lot of discussion of his descent on the ramp and of the water drinking, but mostly on social media. Trump tends to conflate “social media” with “traditional media,” at times because it’s useful to do so and at times because he seems to genuinely confuse the two. Media coverage of the speech was limited largely because it was a sort of typical thing a president does; his shuffling down the ramp garnered enormous attention by contrast because of his attacks on Biden. Well, really, because Trump is largely unpopular with most Americans.

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