Even if you’ve never had an “Oh, My God!” Donald Trump moment before; even if you’ve risen to his defense multiple times when the “fake news” has depicted him as unbalanced, untruthful or unaffected by reality; and even if — no matter the circumstances — you’re planning on voting for him again in 2020, his awkward stumble into weather forecasting must have provided at least a hiccup in your devotion. The spectacle of the president of the United States slipping again into his pouting, fifth-grader persona was humiliating; but mostly for the rest of us ... he apparently transcended humiliation long ago.
Perhaps it was the time he devoted and extent to which he went, insisting he was correct when all evidence proved he was demonstrably wrong, that further illuminated a presidency so mired in defending threats to Trump’s narcissistic self importance that the question — “What does he actually do” and “How can he have time for this? — should be on the lips of every American interested in preserving any semblance of executive branch protocol. Although we’ve been warned not to “normalize” his behavior, which is anything but normal, the excess of over-the-top, transparently pathetic, self-aggrandizement makes it nearly impossible to address it all without having a psychotic episode yourself.
Maybe that’s the long-range plan: chaos, wielded like a sledge hammer, crushing all hope; smashing rationality out of existence; and pulverizing any distinction between backward-level delusion and objective reality. We may not quite be there yet, but we’re way too close for complacency, and getting closer every time this president opens his mouth, demanding another individual staff member or entire branch of government lend credibility to his dishonesty. Party loyalty aside, it is incomprehensible that Republicans appear willing to stake their collective reputation (what’s left of it) on blind loyalty to as loathsome a political figure as we’ve seen in the last half-century, probably longer.
The recent new low — which will probably be surpassed by something else by the time you read this — began with a simple mistake regarding Hurricane Dorian’s expected path. The president erroneously said the storm was likely to hit Alabama, whereupon the state’s National Weather Service office quickly corrected the error, saying that there was no threat. In retrospect, of course they corrected the error. It’s their job to deliver as accurate as possible data to keep people safe. In a normal world, it’s “Whoops,” and we get on with our day, but if there were ever a clearer indication that “normal” has been relegated to the landfill, this was it.
What followed was a continuing, senseless debate, as Trump sought to slam an exclamation point on the whole mess, Sharpie-scrawling an extra bracket on an official NOAA weather map to include Alabama, which, by the way, is not merely idiotic but also illegal. Since then, the wheels of government have been engaged to ostensibly clarify the situation which, remember, wouldn’t have risen to the level of a “situation” if not for Trump’s pathological insecurity.
The New York Times revealed that POTUS himself, who demanded bold action to counteract his personal pique because, as we’ve learned, everything is personal with this president. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was dispatched, ordering Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — who has jurisdiction over NOAA — to address the discrepancy between Trump and the planet Earth. Ross, in turn, essentially threatened to fire any scientists who contradicted Trump’s inaccuracy. After which NOAA appeared to rebuke the actual forecast, implying the president was correct, further fueling yet another, needlessly drawn-out, Trumpian controversy.
There is little indication this will end. We’ve been going through it for what seems like forever, and the sheer volume of childish nonsense and transparent fabrications that surface on a daily basis, make it nearly impossible to take seriously, save the fact that this is the president of the United States we’re talking about.
Although he is no longer the reality-television star of “The Apprentice,” a role that provided him national recognition, his affection for the swaggering character Trump has infused itself into the behavior of bumbling actual Trump, creating a supremely confident leader who has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. It is this precise combination of arrogance and ineptitude that renders him incapable of admitting even minor errors and running the country like he’s still a fictional creation of a TV network.
Considering events in Saudi Arabia the past week, there are far more important issues than wrestling with a weather map for the president to undertake that will require more expertise, humility and negotiating skills than the fictional character in the White House has at his disposal.
Walt Amses lives in North Calais.