Millions watched as Hurricane Dorian slowly approached our nation's southeast coast. As it pummeled Abaco, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported probable strike zones in the form of a cone of uncertainty. This included most of Florida and coastal regions north of it.
Meanwhile, President Trump tweeted that, "in addition to Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated." The NWS responded, "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian."
At this writing, the meteorological storm is well out to sea, but Trump's verbal storm continues. Besides still blaming the "Fake News," the president has marshaled the forces of a rear admiral and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokesperson to buttress his hurricane-predicting acumen. A wise person would have dropped the issue. The real problem is that our nation's leader views himself as infallible and therefore unable to be wrong about anything. This is dangerous for our nation.
People with this type of functioning are often identified as narcissistic and may dig themselves into deeper messes trying to prove that only they are right. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), people with a narcissistic personality disorder are frequently described as "having an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships and a lack of empathy for others."
When this president makes an erroneous statement, he often is unable to apologize or admit inaccuracies. From a psychologist's viewpoint, this is a serious weakness. The Washington Post reported that the president "used a black Sharpie marker to alter an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map to include Alabama in Hurricane Dorian's trajectory" If weather were the only thing that the president has been wrong about, it would be fine. Even professional weather predictors have had to issue mea culpas.
For the record, I'm not a Trump fan. He lost me when he, a non-veteran, criticized the late Sen. John McCain's prisoner of war experience, publicly made fun of a person with a handicap and promised, but couldn't produce, an immediate and wonderful health care plan for all. I don't agree with Vice President Pence's political views, but I would not have the same degree of worry about his ability to understand reality or make rational life-and-death decisions for this nation.
Humans all make mistakes. Very few of us enjoy apologizing for our goofs, but most responsible and mature adults have learned that situations and relationships improve when we admit we are wrong.
Elbert "Joe" Friday, former Republican-appointed director of the NWS said, "This rewriting history to satisfy an ego diminishes NOAA." In my opinion, denigrating America's scientific agencies and our free press when reality and factual data conflict with the president's views is perilous.
On our summer travels, I had a chance to talk politics with people in England, Scotland and Ireland. They had greatly varying views of Brexit, Boris Johnson and their countries' problems. Yet, they all independently volunteered in rather strong language that President Trump is selfish, unstable and undependable.
The president's hurricane-predicting skills are immaterial. What is important is his inability to accept reality when it differs from his views and desires, especially when competent people or clear evidence contradicts these. We Americans must hope that those serving the president can keep him from insisting on other erroneous predictions and decisions.
Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.