No scandal of note gets its due until it achieves a “-gate” suffix.
Without any broad public input, miscues, improprieties and general embarrassments get tags that seem to diminish the Watergate disgrace from which they derive.
Pizzagate. Spygate. Strippergate. Picklegate.
Here in St. Joseph, we in recent years had Stipendgate.
If Americans had as many actual gates as they had “-gate” scandals, they would get carpal tunnel from undoing the latches.
Add to this tired roster one more: Sharpiegate. This one is a real lulu.
Last Sunday morning, President Trump sent out on his Twitter account a warning for people in the path of Hurricane Dorian. In the context of most other things coming from this account, this felt downright presidential, a leader concerned about his people. Good for him.
Except for one thing. He included in his tweet the state of Alabama, odd because ... well, let the National Weather Service in Birmingham handle this.
“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” came the NWS tweet 20 minutes later. “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
Admittedly, the capitalized “NOT” and the “We repeat” might have been gratuitous in response, but you get the picture.
When I saw this later in the day Sunday, I considered it no big deal. A mistake, sure. Inattention to details from a head of state that might cause concern in a certain population, of course.
(On this, I bet any Alabaman seeing this on Twitter might have the mental wherewithal to check a second source, like a weather app, before they pack up the car to evacuate.)
That was that, I figured. A passel of snide mentions on social media, then we all move on. It did not even rank in the top 1,000 inaccuracies from this Twitter account.
For supporters of President Trump, those who genuinely like what his policies portend for this country, this must drive them crazy. He manages to take a nothing incident and keep it alive against all reason.
(And, no, I do not buy that the president plays multi-dimensional chess with these issues, intentionally distracting the public from other, less appetizing, affronts.)
Thus, the nation found itself with the president dragging this story along for days, reconstructing early reports that prove him right in his initial tweet, even presenting a map altered with a Sharpie to prove Alabama had been a possible target for the hurricane. The small story becomes huge. Why?
In football, an undertaking as cerebral as it is physical, coaches admire players with a “short memory,” those who can put aside a mistake made on a particular play and focus only on the next play.
As the Kansas City Chiefs begin their season today, high hopes accompany the team, especially their stunning offense.
The quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, had a remarkable year in 2018, winning the Most Valuable Player award after throwing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns.
He also threw 197 incomplete passes and a dozen interceptions.
That’s the point. Professional athletes need mental strength not to let momentary setbacks deter them from broader successes. The very best hitters in baseball fail two out of every three times they go to the plate.
Mahomes, all of 23 years old, has physical gifts but also the capacity to forget and move forward. Let’s hope these talents lead Kansas City to a Super Bowl.
In the meantime, he favors a Sharpie when signing autographs.