There are a few things that President Donald Trump has made clear in his 32 months in office: that he likes to be at the spinning center of attention, he never admits error, facts are irrelevant, and he will bluster, thunder and threaten for days on end. In other words, Hurricane Trump and Hurricane Dorian were meant for each other. The most amazing collision of this Category 5 storm and this Category Flim-Flam president, however, arrived last Sunday when Mr. Trump warned Alabama that the state was “likely to be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”
That tweet clearly raised some alarm bells at the National Weather Service in Birmingham where actual meteorologists kind of freaked out. Within minutes (seriously, minutes), they sent out a correction to explain to Alabamans that Dorian wasn’t exactly knocking on their door — Florida and Georgia standing in the way, a rather longstanding geographic circumstance. “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east,” the NWS tweeted. Undeterred by science, President Trump held his ground even as Dorian’s track headed further east by the hour — to the point where he was back at it four days later railing at anyone who doubted his Alabama warning.
“Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast). The Fake News knows this very well. That’s why they’re the Fake News!” Mr. Trump posted on his social media account Thursday morning.
But that wasn’t even the best of it. During a briefing with reporters Wednesday in the Oval Office, President Trump held up a touched-up illustration from a three-day-old forecast showing that the so-called “cone of uncertainty” at one point included a small corner of Alabama — extended more deeply into the state by what appears to have been a broad stroke of a Sharpie. Asked about whether the chart had been touched up, the president could only offer a somewhat unconvincing, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” Now, keep in mind that this is the same man who has explained multiple times during his tenure that he’s never heard of a Category 5 hurricane. This is only possible if he is so forgetful as to justify a swift diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or he simply thinks it’s cool to say he’s never heard of Category 5 over and over again, never mind the truth.
All in all, we can safely report that The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore is in no danger of being replaced as the nation’s storm stud. What Mr. Trump lacks in knowledge of weather forecasting, he more than makes up in his unwillingness to admit error. Can you imagine a TV weather forecaster spending a week trying to justify his mistakes, particularly when they’ve become so irrelevant? You might call such an individual crazy. You might call him juvenile. But you sure wouldn’t call them up for a network audition. “Well, Stephanie Abrams, before I get into the danger facing the Outer Banks, can I mention that the far lower right hand corner of Alabama might have gotten hit badly two days ago with lives lost and basements flooded if the storm had tracked markedly differently than it actually did? Damn Fake News.”
The whole episode was so bizarre that we suspect the Sharpie-enhanced map is destined to become a collector’s item, a tribute to a presidential ego of Willard Scott proportions. Or, it might have been a clever effort to steer the Alternative Fact of the Week research team away from the week’s other moment of bizarreness — the increasingly labored efforts of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff to explain why he had to stay in a Trump resort nearly 200 miles away from his meetings in Dublin. At first, it was because Mr. Trump had “suggested” staying there, then when someone realized that posed an ethics problem, it was a circumstance “at no time” directed by the president. The current forecast is for that story to evolve substantially in the days ahead with a 50 percent chance that it will be blamed on the news media and a 90 percent chance the public will never get an honest answer out of the executive branch.