Why ‘Sharpie-gate’ could be devastating Trump’s re-election hopes
There’s a lot opponents can say about President Trump heading into the 2020 election. You have the Mueller Report, which laid out at least ten examples where the president obstructed justice. He was named as a co-conspirator in the indictment of his personal attorney who is now serving time in prison.
You can point out his enriching his businesses and himself while being president. His policies have allowed children to be locked in cages living in their own filth. #hocopolitics
There are his embarrassing moments on the world stage including his coddling of autocratic tyrants and belittling allies. More recently is the nonsensical trade war with China that, if continued, will put our economy in peril. And, of course, you have the endless lies, blatant hypocrisy and narcissism.
None of this seemed to have moved the needle. Where he should be sitting at 12 percent approval mainly from the KKK wing of his base, he is still in the mid-40’s range. It’s a real head-scratcher to be sure. What would it take? #hocopolitics
Hurricane Dorian and in particular “Sharpie-gate” might be the answer.
Trump incorrectly announced that sweet home Alabama would be in the path of Dorian. As the hurricane moved along its wobbly track it became more apparent that it will hit along the Florida coast and head north. Alabama would be spared.
But Trump did not back off and reiterated his prediction necessitating a rare rebuke from the National Weather Service (NWS).
Unwilling or unable to admit what seemed to have been an honest mistake, Trump continued to maintain he was right all along. So at the Oval office on September 4, he pulled out a chart showing the track of Dorian but it was doctored by the markings of a black sharpie that extended the cone of uncertainty to Alabama.
On Twitter Trump continued to defend his prediction fully five days after his initial statement. Somehow he managed to get Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser, who said he briefed Trump multiple times about Dorian as well as models that showed the potential path of the eye of the storm to defend him in a rather lengthy statement.
The backlash was severe and unrelenting.
This all became fodder for jokes by late night comedians and political commentators—print and TV—a well as creative memes that spread all over social media displaying doctored photos with a black marker to increase the size of Trump’s hands or his height to show he is taller than Obama as examples.
But for the Trump campaign, this was no laughing matter. While the actions, performance and character of the president have been insufficient to this point to shake his base, “Sharpie-gate” might. This is a much easier concept to digest than the 440-page Mueller Report and Attorney General William Barr’s deliberate attempt to muddy the waters. People saw this in very simplistic terms; many of Trump’s foibles rose to the surface with this one episode.
On September 5, The Washington Post put up a brief story on Instagram about the sharpie modifications on the chart. It received over 14,000 “Likes” so far.
The most popular comment (over 1,700 Likes) came from Paulsarkisphoto who posted, “Trump’s head is a cone of uncertainty.”
Another comment came from gt69 who said, “I can not [sic] believe this man is president. I live in Alabama and heard this. People need to wake up and vote!!! Let’s elect someone that’s competent!!!”
Why this reaction should be a red flag for Trump and his team is the fact that there were very few people willing to defend him. Usually a WAPO story on Trump has a pretty decent number of people going to bat for the president. With this one, however, they hunkered down.
That's not a good sign for Trump.