Joe Biden Stumbled Boarding Air Force One – Any attempt by Joe Biden to look presidential, and to seem cool and collected as he prepared to depart Helsinki, Finland, were immediately dashed when he briefly stumbled going up the flight of stairs to board Air Force One on Thursday.
Instead of appearing as the leader of the free world, Biden once again seemed like a frail senior citizen.
This was, of course, was another headline-grabbing event, made all the worse by the fact it was just days after a “watch your step” sign was spotted on the stairs leading to the presidential aircraft during Biden’s arrival in the UK on Sunday evening.
Is the Media Being Too Critical of Joe Biden?
“Biden tripped – stopped the presses,” seemed to once again be the reaction. Yes, it is a concern that any 80-year-old might slip when going up metal stairs that don’t appear to be the least bit forgiving.
However, it isn’t just Biden’s age.
One issue is that Air Force One, the highly modified 747-200B jetliner, has multiple sets of staircases. Each is bit of a different.
As The New York Post has noted, previous presidents have reportedly used the shorter stairs to get on and off the aircraft – notably when there is rough weather. Biden was using that staircase on Thursday, and he may be less familiar with it – while the stairs don’t appear to be exactly uniform in height.
Uneven staircases can be a serious problem for most people, not just seniors. In some communities, uneven stairs are even code violations as it is considered a trip hazard, while metal stairs can often be slippery, made worse by dress shoes.
It is true that Biden has struggled with the stairs on multiple occasions, which has fueled the concerns over his age. This recent slip comes after the president also took a hard fall after giving the commencement address at the United States Air Force Academy last month.
It should be noted that Joe Biden is hardly the first U.S. commander-in-chief who has faced scrutiny for slipping on the stairs to the presidential plane.
It was on June 1, 1975, after landing in Saltzburg, Austria that President Gerald Ford slipped while walking down the stairs. It was raining, and always a class act, Ford was holding an umbrella for the First Lady when he slipped and fell.
Ford, who was not holding on the railing, attempted to blame the slip on an old knee injury. However, the damage was done – and thanks to the mockery he received on Saturday Night Live, Ford soon became known as accident prone. That was despite the fact that he was a star college football player, and received offers to play for the NFL. He opted to go to law school instead, and later served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. Yet, even today, Ford is rememberd as an bumbling bufoon because of one slip when he was seeking to be a gentleman, thinking first about his wife.
Today, the media may also be overstating Biden’s recent slip.
As Forbes.com also reported, since 1962 the stairs have also caused problems for many who have had to climb or descend them – with President Ronald Reagan falling on the stairs in 1984, while President Barrack Obama almost slipped on one occasion.
Then there was President Donald Trump who didn’t fall on the stairs, but instead he was spotted with toilet paper stuck to his shoe as boarded Air Force One. That was hardly a presidential moment either.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.