It’s hard to think of a single moment or tweet that would define this President or this presidency. Each one seems to be jaw dropping. But his Etch-a Sketch altering the National Weather Service’s map of Hurricane Dorian’s path points to the profound stupidity, ignorance, stubbornness, illegality, incompetency, and as Pete Buttigieg suggested, “pathetic”-ness of this presidency.
The visual of the Sharpie map, much less being held up by Trump, is one that will linger longer than the chants or the tweets. Have you ever seen anything so amateur, much less from the office that is supposed to be the most professional in the world? Of course the entire presidency has been amateur at best. This White House doesn’t even feign professionalism or the art of governance. They provide fake news and might as well use an Etch-a-Sketch. Just shake it and it goes away. But this one won’t.
The point of Trump’s magic marker alteration of Dorian’s path was a contemptible attempt to “prove” that he did not misspeak about the hurricane risk to Alabama. Like magic, he could mark the path as he meant it to be on an official government weather map and everything would be ok. Except that people’s homes and lives were in danger (or not). People had to make actual decisions that affected their lives. Oh, and it’s illegal to alter a National Weather Service map.
Like he has always done, Trump reveals his truth by projection. His accusations of fake news could not be more perfectly manifested than on his Sharpie map. His ignorance, (either not knowing, or not caring, or both) of the legal ramifications in the moment, were literally on display. His lack of talent, intellect, knowledge, curiosity, thoughtfulness, steadiness, decency, maturity, flexibility, depth, or caring were indelibly marked with that Sharpie. He doesn’t even play POTUS well. He blames everyone for what he is and does. He knows it and so do we. He can try to show a false projection, but we know better.
Whenever you get frustrated over actual policies that require nuance and compromise and serious thought, remember this ridiculous map. That cone of silence that is the party of Trump is complicit in all that is deplorable emanating from this White House. Sharpies are for labeling. Trump is good at labeling. That’s it. The Sharpie’s the point. I hope this absurd incident will remain indelible. We need to remember that we can be (and have) so much better.