I imagine what I am about to write being read by someone in the distant future, perhaps three months from now, and them thinking "Oh, I remember that" or "How quaint". Further on out than the event horizon of December 2019 or so, all of these words will just be random jottings, a mixture of asfanhoiandsa and hgmlsngng impinging upon your eyeballs.
I have avoided writing about the man that I deemed the The New York President. Because, despite all of the Sound and Fury, there has not been much of interest to write about. So here, just to clear my own head, is one of the most recent goings-on of Donald Trump. Last week, with the approach of Hurricane Dorian to Florida and the southeast United States, Trump sent out a tweet advising caution to residents of several states, including Alabama. The mention of Alabama sparked controversy, because at the time that the tweet was sent, the storm had shifted its expected path eastward. There then sprung up a battle of words between Donald Trump, the National Weather Service and the media in general, over this mention of Alabama. Trump took a map of the storm's expected path and drew (or had drawn), in Sharpie, a continuation of the storm's path.
The odd thing about this, from my perspective, is that the initial "mistake" was not one. It was the type of petty, contrived outrage that used to make us roll our eyes when the conservative blogosphere would do it to Barack Obama. The storm had been expected to go further west. And, of course, storms can do unexpected things, or spin off side storms far to their main center. And there are always further effects to a hurricane: emergency crews or power repair people can be dispatched to the action. All of which means, on the whole, mentioning Alabama, while a little off topic, was a reasonable thing to do. The sharpied map was silly, the manipulation of the National Weather Service into backing him up was troublesome, but of all the weird things that I have seen in the past three years, telling people in Alabama to be careful of a hurricane was not one of them.
"Sharpiegate" will be forgotten by next Friday, but here are some things not to forget.
Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort is currently serving a 7.5 year sentence for laundering around 70 million dollars of what could best be described as Russian organized crime money.
Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, is awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI about his interaction with the Russian government.
Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is serving a three year prison sentence for illegally paying off the President's mistress.
Two separate federal prosecutors: The Office of Special Counsel and the Southern District of New York, have said that they had evidence to charge Donald Trump with separate crimes, but could not because of policy that a sitting president could not be indicted.
All of those above points (as well as several others not mentioned) are about serious, substantive and mostly factually undisputed matters. The exact weighing of whether Trump could actually be charged and convicted of a crime is more complicated, but in general, these are serious legal matters. Compared to them, the initial word of caution to Alabama is nothing, and the reaction afterwards, while various flavors of stupid, is minor. Obstruction of justice is a crime. Drawing on a map with a sharpie is not.
And yet, Twitter hungers. What type of epic disses and ice burns can we fit in before things go stale? Every six hours, we need more fuel for the fire of online snark. Not that I don't understand the urge, I am not such a wet blanket that I don't understand the appeal. The problem is, so much is happening, so fast, and all of it is jumbled together, that we have reached the point that a felony and a slight factual error in a tweet are both being judged under the same lens.