While Hurricane Dorian closed in on the Carolinas this week, @SharpiePresident Donald Trump quadrupled down on his mistaken Sunday tweet that Alabama was in the storm's path.
Think about it: The president who doesn't like diplomatic trips unless the Russian or North Korean presidents are involved skipped a diplomatic trip to Poland ostensibly so he could monitor Hurricane Dorian from Camp David. Then he spent the weekend golfing. In one break, he tweeted "in addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated."
This president hires and fires people — and issues presidential orders — by tweet.
So it's a big deal when he says residents of Alabama are in danger when they clearly are not.
Minutes later, the National Weather Service's office in Birmingham felt compelled to correct the record: "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east."
Juxtapose Trump's lack of attention to a dangerous hurricane — one that already had stalled and crawled for more than 20 hours over the Bahamas thanks to the climate-change effects of an overly warmed ocean — to the serious discussion of climate change in a CNN town hall Wednesday with 10 Democratic presidential candidates.
Elizabeth Warren presented a $3 trillion plan melding the best environmental aspects of the Green New Deal to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's 10-year action plan to decarbonize America's electricity, vehicles and buildings through 2030. She has a "Green Marshall Plan" that would spend on American-made clean, renewable and emission-free energy products for federal, state, and local use — and for export. She would pay for it with a new 7% tax surcharge on profits of more than $100 million earned by U.S. companies.
Former Vice President Joe Biden would spend $1.7 trillion to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner and go "well beyond" former President Barack Obama's climate goals. He would end fossil fuel subsidies and ban new oil and gas permits on public lands. He, like all of the Democratic contenders, would re-enter the Paris climate accord. The always practical Biden stressed the need to involve the rest of the world. Without them, even if the U.S. goes net zero, the world will still have a crisis. He said he would use his experience in working with foreign leaders, and he'd go to Brazil — where the Amazon is burning — to talk with President Jair Bolsonaro right away.
California Sen. Kamala Harris would spent $10 trillion in public and private money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create alternative energy jobs. She would reinstate federal emission rules for vehicles, and call for 50% of new passenger vehicles sold to be zero-emission by 2030 and 100% of cars on the road to be zero-emission by 2035.
Sen. Cory Booker has a $3 trillion plan to invest in clean energy, phase out the use of fossil fuels and create a carbon-neutral economy by 2045 — without dismissing nuclear power. We'll need nuclear power to get where we must go, he said.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro's "People and Planet First Plan" calls for a combined $10 trillion in federal, state, local and private investments over 10 years to shift the U.S. to clean energy and create 10 million new jobs in the process.
Businessman Andrew Yang had many of those same talking points, but also some real-people examples: No, the government is not going to take away your car, but might buy back your clunker to help you drive an electric car. And yes, you can eat burgers. And, sure, some say cleaning up the Earth and water are too expensive. "Are you kidding me?" he countered. "You know what's expensive? Poisoning our kids!"
Sen. Kamala Harris said she would work "across the aisle," but if necessary, she would take executive action to implement some version of the Green New Deal.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar laid out vision for a green economy where everyone has a place and no one gets left behind.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has the most expensive plan, tallying in at $16 trillion. "We are fighting for the survival of the Planet Earth. How is this not a major priority? How to pay for it? Well, ending America's $5.2 trillion a year fossil fuels subsidies for starters.
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke unveiled a $5 trillion plan doing exactly what the scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have recommended. He prefers a a cap-and-trade program to a carbon tax.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said beating climate change could be "more challenging" than winning World War II, and Trump will be remembered for failing to tackle it. Instead, "the president is busy drawing with a Sharpie on a hurricane map. He's in a different reality than the rest of us."
Which brings us back to Trump's bumbled hurricane warning. Our sad president refused to back down and cried "Fake News." On Wednesday, he produced a weather service map from Aug. 29 (three days before his original mistaken tweet). On the map, someone had drawn a crude extension of the storm's path. The extension — looking very much like Trump's presidential notes made with sharpie markers — carried Dorian's path into the southeast corner of Alabama.
Trump is embroiled in Sharpiegate, and the rest of us are worried about real storm paths and climate change.