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On Monday, Donald Trump delivered a healthcare speech in which he asserted that “Obamacare is death.” Behind him on stage were families who Trump claims are “victims of Obamacare,” including one small boy in a wheelchair. On his way out of the speech, Trump shook the hands of many of the assembled guests. But he appeared to ignore the wheelchair-bound boy, who reached up to him twice.
Child in wheelchair reaches up twice to shake the president's hand pic.twitter.com/v2cNVwX9Je— Ansel Herz (@Ansel) July 24, 2017
He didnt even high five that boy in the wheelchair!!! Using sick children as props. DESPICABLE!https://t.co/usl3YlRf3V— VirgenFJ (@VirgenFJ) July 24, 2017
This makes me absolutely sick.— Lauren Miheli (@LMiheli) July 24, 2017
This looks extremely cold, but this segment from the end of the speech doesn’t tell the whole story. When Trump first entered the room, he made directly for the little boy and leaned down to shake his hand, making sure to pause for the cameras.
It appears Trump didn’t snub the boy after all. And why would he? A child in a wheelchair is the ideal prop for Trump’s “victims of Obamacare” narrative. However, Trump’s public history with people in wheelchairs is also not great. During his campaign, Trump mocked J.J. Holmes, a 12-year-old with cerebral palsy who came to a rally to protest Trump’s previous mockery of a disabled reporter. People in wheelchairs protesting the Republican “Trumpcare” bill were also dragged away from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell’s office by Capitol police. And Trump has also been accused of snubbing wheelchair-bound former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole at his inauguration.
On this one count, though, Trump doesn’t appear to have disrespected a disabled or wheelchair-bound person. It just looks that way in one segment of a much longer video.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.