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Trump’s uneasy relationship with hurricanes



The good news, from his point of view, is that he can look presidential. He flies down in Air Force One to Texas or Florida or wherever the next one hits, strides around the disaster zone in his windbreaker and MAGA cap and with the glamorous Melania at his side, smiling indulgently and surrounded by toadies and sycophants, including the increasingly trance-like Pence (who must have studied Nancy Reagan’s famous “gaze,” to judge from the unblinkingly adoring stare he always fastens on Trump).

The Nancy Gaze

The Pence Gaze

The bad news for Trump is that every time these monster hurricanes (and other weather extremes) occur, Trump gets asked about his climate-change skepticism, for which he has no coherent answer. Even the conservative Republican mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, criticized the administration for its head-in-the-sand denialism, stating bluntly, “This is the time to talk about climate change.” And yet, Trump won’t; he continues his war on science. The Environmental Protection Agency, supposedly one of the nation’s leaders in scientific research, doesn’t even have a section on climate change anymore, after disabling the old Obama-era one last April. If you search for information on the EPA website about climate change, you get this message:


Which gives a new definition to the word “updated.” “Disappeared” is more like it.

Trump has certainly painted himself into a corner on climate change, but it’s not entirely his fault: He inherited a Republican ideology that climate change is not real, and, even if it is (which it isn’t), it’s not caused by human activity. We don’t know what Trump himself really believes. He may believe in global warming and he may not; his beliefs may change several times a day. But what we can know is what he actually does. Leaving the Paris climate accord was another example. Can that have been anything but pandering to his under-educated followers that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese?

Like so many of his campaign promises—repeal and replace Obamacare, build the wall, ban Muslims from entering the U.S., end DACA—Trump’s war on science also seems destined to abject, embarrassing failure. We’ve seen lately how Trump deals with failure. This reality-show president calls it “success,” diverts attention with some stunt, and then hopes his Breitbart audience will believe him—and believe him they do, for they lack the cerebral capacity to engage in critical thinking. But who cares about logic, when Trump validates your anger and resentment and makes you feel good about your moral failures?

Meanwhile, on another front of Trump’s war on science, the POTUS has instructed his Centers for Disease Control not to speak to any reporters, ever, “even for a simple data-related question.”

I find myself having to do some armchair psychoanalysis here. I do not think Trump is stupid. He’s highly intelligent. Why would he not at least make the attempt to educate his dumber followers? Educating voters—lifting them out of ignorance and making them smarter—is a core mission of any American President. But not this one. Again, why not? I can come up with only one theory: an ignorant voter is much more likely to vote Republican than an educated voter. (This also explains the right’s war on colleges and universities.) For all his recent dalliances with “Chuck and Nancy,” Trump remains a conservative, right-wing Republican who desires a right-wing Republican Congress to be re-elected next year, with even greater numbers of Republican Senators and representatives than now serve. The best way to do that is to keep red-district voters scared, angry and stupid. One way to accomplish that is to muzzle government scientists; this is precisely what we’re seeing. Trump believes in only one thing: himself. The consequences to the nation and the world can be damned.

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