Of all of the scandals in the Trump administration, and they are legion, SharpieGate will go down in history as the text book example in abject stupidity and political machinations for the sole purpose of protecting the Fool in Chief from his own folly. After Trump had thoroughly made himself the laughing stock of the entire planet, by insisting to know more about meteorology than the experts, and going to the extreme measure of altering a weather map, Wilbur Ross went into action to do damage control. Shortly after he threatened to fire NOAA’s political staff, they “corrected the record” and made it sound like Trump had been right all along, and that the original Weather Service tweet was due to “a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama.” New York Times:
The actions by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”
Mr. Trump persisted in saying that Alabama was at risk and a few days later, on Sept. 4, he displayed a NOAA map that appeared to have been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the area potentially affected by Dorian.
Mr. Ross, the commerce secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.
Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. Unlike career government employees, political staff are appointed by the administration. They usually include a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides.
Naturally, all this did was antagonize the scientific community, essentially pitting Trump’s need to have has idiocy validated, against the credibility of a government agency, and it’s own scientists. That sparked an email Monday from Craig N. McClean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, telling the agency that he was investigating “potential violations” with respect to NOAA’s decision to invalidate the Birmingham Weather Service’s opinion and instead back Trump’s statement. McLean called that decision “a danger to public health and safety.”
The public safety theme was also echoed Monday when the National Weather Service director, Louis W. Uccellini publicly praised the work of the Birmingham, Alabama office and said that staff members had “one thing in mind, public safety” in contradicting Trump’s initial tweet.
The reality TV president doesn’t have a clue how he was threatening reality by tweeting out false information about Dorian and Alabama and the Weather Service acted in the only way they could have, which was responsibly. The issue at NOAA has yet to be resolved. None of this was even remotely necessary, but was occasioned by Donald Trump’s puerile imbecility in insisting he was right about a subject that he had no business speaking knowledgeably about in the first place. Heads may roll, but with any luck, they will be the right ones. It sure would be nice to start with Wilbur Ross.