I knew it. President Trump really cares about Alabama.
He must have forgiven us for Jeff Sessions.
He may have forgiven us for Roy Moore.
Time will tell if he forgives us for Kay “High-Quality Woman” Ivey.
Why else would someone in the Oval Office pull out a Sharpie and comically gerrymander the projected path of Hurricane Dorian on a National Hurricane Center map?
Because he cares about Alabama.
Most of our eastern neighbors this week were getting to play the “Where Will Dorian Go?” sweepstakes, Florida and Georgia and the Carolinas, and he didn’t want us to miss the emergency management fun.
No state is all in for Trump 2020, it seems, more than Alabama and our nine Electoral College votes. We are one of his first political loves — which sounds slimy and odd, considering he’s been married three times and paid off a porn star following their embarrassing tryst — but we’ve been there, hand-in-hand with him, from the beginning.
Thanks a lot, Jeff.
It all started with a tweet, as does most everything in Trumplandia. (Ever imagine 45’s presidency in a Twitter-less world? I do.) On Sunday, as Dorian was pummeling the Bahamas, Trump pretended to be presidential and tweeted this:
“In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”
Except, it was wrong.
Or, as The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump wrote this week, “It was not dramatically incorrect nor was it entirely incorrect. But it was significantly incorrect, in that it suggested a threat to the state of Alabama that didn’t exist at the time it was written.”
The apolitical National Weather Service office in Birmingham wasn’t amused. “Significantly incorrect” is a fireable offense in hurricane meteorology. Twenty minutes after Trump’s “GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” tweet, Alabama forecasters fact-checked the president on Twitter:
“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.”
That’s right. The president and the NWS in Birmingham were arguing over the path of a hurricane.
Trump doubled down, as he always does. Truth? What’s that? Trump knows hurricanes better than the NWS. The hurricane “may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon. “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately. It’s the size of — the storm that we’re talking about. So, for Alabama, just please be careful also.”
I bet Mississippians wish the president cared for them as much as he does us.
But, the map.
Cue the Dora the Explorer song.
“If there's a place you got to go/I'm the one you need to know/I'm the map/I'm the map/I'm the map ...
“If there's a place you got to get/I can get you there I bet/I'm the map/I'm the map.”
Reporters gathered Wednesday in the Oval Office for a presidential update on preparations for Hurricane Dorian’s U.S. landfall. An aide displayed a map of the hurricane’s projected path. Alabama wasn’t included.
But wait! A Sharpie will fix it! And presto! Someone — The aide? The president? — gerrymandered the hurricane’s cone of uncertainty to include a sliver of southeast Alabama. See? The president was right all along!
Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” joked Wednesday night he was impressed that the president could find Alabama on a map. “But still,” Noah said, “the president of the United States just changed a map with a Sharpie to make himself look right, and he thought we wouldn’t notice.”
I typed that paragraph Thursday morning. As if on cue, the president took to Twitter, again, saying:
“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!”
Ah, yes. The Fake News, Trump’s reflexive jab whenever facts and truth don’t protect him.
Then he tweeted again, at 3:14 Thursday afternoon, along with a photo of a hurricane map from last month. Timing, you know. “Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!”
Four minutes passed.
He couldn’t resist.
He’s obsessed — not with us, but with proving his mistake wasn’t a mistake, that facts aren’t factual, that he knows more about hurricanes than the NWS.
“I was with you all the way Alabama. The Fake News Media was not!”
If Trump really cared about Alabama — which he doesn’t, by the way — he’d urge Ivey and the state Legislature to do something constructive, maybe even expand Medicaid. But that’s bad Republican politics.
Instead, Trump only cares about Trump. He doesn’t forgive. (Sorry, Jeff.) He doesn’t forget. And he doesn’t make mistakes. Just check the map.