Given the horrendous couple of weeks that Donald Trump has had, his advisors must have been pleased to have the opportunity to schedule a feel-good photo op with the two American women astronauts who did the first all-female space walk. It should have been a slam-dunk, where all Trump had to do was congratulate them on achieving a milestone. And yet he managed to bungle even that when he thought it was the first time that any woman had done a space walk. The astronaut had to gently correct him.
When gently corrected by one of the astronauts about how other women have spacewalked, Donald Trump uses his middle finger to "fix" his hair.
How is this even real life? pic.twitter.com/9bnj7XfY1m
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) October 21, 2019
How can anyone not know that women have been doing space walks for decades? In reality, the first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova in 1969 and the first woman to do a space walk was Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. Both were from the former Soviet Union. The first American woman in space was Sally Ride in 1983 and the first American woman to do a space walk was Kathryn Sullivan in 1984.
One possible reason for Trump’s ignorance is that the US media often downplays or ignores the scientific and technological achievements of the Soviet Union (and Russia later), giving some Americans the idea that the US has been the first in pretty much everything space-related. Since Trump seems to get all his information from the most jingoistic media sources, he probably is utterly unaware of these facts.
But surely the aides who prepped him for this call would have been aware that American women also did space walks long ago? Or did they think that this was such common knowledge that he did not have to be specifically told about it? You would think that they would have realized by now that his ignorance knows no bounds and that he needs to be told everything. (“Mr. President, I just want to remind you that the sun rises in the east.”)