Donald Trump's repeated slurring and mispronunciations of commonly used English words in his public speeches have become the subject of frequent viral videos. But on Sunday morning, a major media outlet also took notice of the quirk, when MSNBC host Joy Reid aired a compilation of clips that showed Trump stumbling over words that would otherwise be routine to pronounce. On the same broadcast, the ghostwriter of Trump's most successful book speculated that his former collaborator could be suffering from "early dementia."
The repeated difficulty in getting his words out is a new phenomenon for Trump, said author Tony Schwartz, who called it a "dramatic shift" from Trump's earlier speech patterns, as quoted by the news site Raw Story.
"He was reasonably articulate when I knew him," said Schwartz, who worked with Trump to produce the 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal. Schwartz added that more than 30 years ago, when the two collaborated, Trump's "nervous system was not so intensely aroused and activated as it is right now," making the ability to speak "clearly and simply" an easier task in that earlier period.
Because Trump is in "fight-or-flight all the time" since taking over the Oval Office, Schwartz speculated, his ability to concentrate may be affected.
The video excerpt of the Schwartz interview below, from Reid's January 11 AM Joy program, contains numerous video examples of Trump tripping over routine words and phrases.Schwartz also cautioned that "we don't know about this," before going on to speculate that Trump's slurring "might be a function of his age." Schwartz noted that "early dementia" could be behind the awkward inability to speak common words.
The average age for the onset of dementia is 80 years old. Trump is now 73. Any dementia symptoms a patient may suffer at that age would be considered medically "early."
But Schwartz also said that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) could be seen as a cause for the slurring phenomenon, meaning Trump "can't keep track of what's on his mind," and trips over his words as a result.
A former staff member on the NBC reality television show The Apprentice, Noel Casler, worked in close proximity to Trump — who hosted the show — and now claims that Trump was then and remains today a frequent user of the drug Adderall, a combination of amphetamines commonly prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
In 2018, medical journalist James Hamblin published an essay in The Atlantic, titled, "Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?"
While Hamblin stopped short of "diagnosing" Trump with dementia, ADD, or any other cognitive disorder, he noted that Trump's slurring and other sometimes odd mannerisms and behavior "call attention to the alarming absence of a system to evaluate elected officials' fitness for office."
The United States lacks any way to determine that a president is "not cognitively impaired" or in "continuous decline," Hamblin wrote.