We have entered the Age of Post-Parody.
by Taylor Mascetta
In a regular society, mistakes are made – it’s a natural human phenomenon. Perfection may be something we strive for, but it’s impossible to achieve. People have to learn to take their mistakes, apologize for them, and use it to improve themselves in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t a skill President Trump has seemed to master yet.
For the past few weeks, America has been dealing with a little problem called Hurricane Dorian. The category five hurricane has been an absolute monster. The Bahamas were completely ravaged in the storm – parts of the pristine oasis were left an absolute wasteland. After it gobbled up those islands, Dorian barrelled towards Florida. While parents scrambled to prepare for the hurricane, students hoping for school closure meme-d the storm, spamming Tiktok with videos depicting the storm’s “anticipated” arrival. Except, the storm never came to the Sunshine State – instead, it arrived towards the unprepared Carolinas. While chaos reigned over in those three states, Alabama stayed relaxed and unharmed.
Except, according to President Trump, Alabama was also in the middle of a weather crisis.
When Dorian came to the U.S., Trump did what he does best – ran straight to social media. He tweeted “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!”
The tweet left millions of Americans scratching their heads. According to the Birmingham National Weather Services, Alabama was not going to see any impact from Dorian. Who were they supposed to believe – a credible scientific source or the president himself? Needless to say, the entire Internet was confused.
In a normal situation, Trump would have addressed his mistake, apologized, and moved on. Unfortunately, he did not. Enter Sharpie Gate.
On September 4, during a press conference, Trump showed an image addressing Dorian’s path of destruction. A white circle surrounded Florida and parts of Georgia, but viewers were quick to notice an extension. The southeast corner of Alabama was circled with what was unmistakably black Sharpie. It looked as if someone quickly drawn over the state seconds before the conference went life.
Naturally, the Internet was set ablaze. The situation was deemed “Sharpiegate” and Twitter was filled to the brim with memes mocking the president. People used “sharpies” to alter aspects of Trump’s life – they gave Melania a smile, gave him bigger hands, and filled up the audience at his inauguration speech. The White House responded to the criticism, still defending the president’s claim. The NOAA released a statement saying that NHC models “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”
All jokes aside, the entirety of “Sharpie Gate” illuminates a deep-seated issue hidden within the Trump administration – its inability to admit he has done wrong.
Everyone makes mistakes – that’s what makes us human. It’s up to us to own up to them and learn from a misstep. But, to Trump, a mistake discredits his image. As president, he wants to keep a tight grasp on his authoritative impression. Perfection is key to preserve a powerful image to his foes – with the Democratic debates heating up, President Trump needs as much credibility as possible. His avoidance of mistakes, however, is what’s diminishing his credibility in the first place.
President Trump, however, doesn’t rely on all of the facts – he says what he wants to hear. Whenever he states or tweets something, it’s his own cold, hard truth. When anyone fact-checks or disproves his claim with evidence, he uses the classic “fake news” accusation. He is striving for perfection but is not doing what is necessary to be seen as such. To stay credible, you must stay factual. A Sharpie and a proven untrue fact will not come in handy.
The biggest casualty of Sharpie Gate, however, are all of those who were affected by the hurricane. Dorian was a CATEGORY FIVE STORM: it was the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas in history, the second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, and claimed the lives of 43 people. Along with that, many parts of the Bahamas have been left completely devastated. Thousands of citizens have lost their homes and entire livelihoods. Everyone seems to care more about poking fun at the president or making memes about the storm rather than helping those who need help. Instead of trying to convince everyone that he is right, President Trump needs to turn his gaze to rescue efforts and helping communities rebuild – no sharpies required.