“Its not a lie…if you believe it.”
So said George Constanza while coaching Jerry on how to trick a polygraph during a 1995 episode of Seinfeld. But little did Americans cackling at the pathetic piece of advice know that in less than 25 years it would define the entire existence of the leader of the free world, a man for whom reality is whatever happens to be most advantageous to his ego at any given moment in time.
On Sunday, it happened to be that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama “(much) harder than anticipated.” The only problem with the president’s warning was that Alabama was not in the storm’s path. The National Weather Service confirmed the state was not in danger shortly after Trump’s tweet. “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” wrote NWS Birmingham. “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
It’s unclear exactly why Trump decided to go ahead and include Alabama on the list of states in the storm’s path, but it probably had something to do with his perverse need to dramatically exaggerate the size and scope of any natural disaster befalling the United States on his watch. The bigger they are, the more significant they are, and Trump’s brain for some reason conflates this with his own significance. He did it last September when he giddily described Hurricane Florence as “the wettest we’ve seen, from the standpoint of water.” He did it this week when he said claimed he’d “never heard” of a Category 5 hurricane, despite having discussed Category 5 hurricanes at several other points throughout his presidency in similarly record-breaking terms.
Trump was caught lying about Hurricane Dorian’s death march to Alabama, but it didn’t matter. Like any good Constanza disciple, he believed it. Thus, Dorian was indeed heading toward Alabama, and anyone saying otherwise was Fake News. On Monday it was ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl.
….when in fact, under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some “hurt.” Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2019
Two days later, the White House tweeted a video of Trump updating reporters on the status of the hurricane from the Oval Office. When discussing “all of the other states” the storm was projected to hit, the president held up a blown-up map detailing the storm’s path. A white line representing the reach of the storm curves through the Florida panhandle and up into Georgia, but does not reach as far west as Alabama. What does reach into Alabama is a black line, which appears to have been drawn onto the map with a magic marker.
Check it out:
The President of the United States altered a National Hurricane Center map with a sharpie to falsely extend the official forecast toward Alabama so he didn't have to admit he was wrong in a tweet. https://t.co/i0CJcYV4yq pic.twitter.com/pR57IL6WfT
— Dennis Mersereau (@wxdam) September 4, 2019
When Trump was asked to explain why the map was altered, he said: “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” He also maintained that “many models” showed lines going “directly through” Alabama. “[It] was going to be hit very hard,” said the president.
George Constanza would be proud.