History tells us an American president’s foremost duty in times of both calm and turmoil is to reassure the American people. A powerful presence is particularly welcome after a catastrophe has struck. That burnished image of the president stepping up to the challenge with calm assurance and wise counsel has always shown brightly before Donald Trump fouled the highest office in the land.
The self-ordained greatest emergency management chief in history has been dealt one more chance to do more than throw paper towels at mortified Puerto Rican Americans and tweet bullshit. He is already standing with one foot over the chasm. A little shove or a tiny misstep will be fatal to him and the whimsical world he lives in.
For those who detest his presidency, it is a Hobson’s choice indeed. If Trump rises to the occasion, as unlikely as it now seems, his impending dispatch from the miasmatic swamp he created will be deferred. Only if he fails to deliver timely, appropriate relief will Trump be pulled from the goo kicking and screaming by the cabal of swamp dwellers already roiling the greasy waters with insalubrious intrigue.
It is both sad and true that many Americans tolerated Mr. Turnip’s dismal record when Hurricane Maria slammed into the American territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on September 21, 2017. It was the second Category 5 hurricane in the 2017 storm season, from which 2,975 Americans living in Puerto Rico died after it had weakened into a Category 4 storm. Only the approximately 8,000 dead swept away in the infamous 1900 Galveston Island, Texas storm died in greater numbers from a hurricane.
Trump’s molding reputation can’t stand a disaster of that magnitude on the American mainland without responding immediately, coherently, and with certain purpose. Hurricane Florence’s arrival today will physically threaten the president’s acutely rabid base in the Carolinas with high winds, lashing rain and a possibly deadly storm surge. If Trump isn’t wading around in the fecal-filled water offering more than bombast and platitudes, he is finished, his putrid administration destroyed by the disdain of his victimized supporters. Hell hath no fury like a woman or a political dupe scorned.
Last year on September 8, when Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida after battering the Caribbean, Trump urged Floridians to beware Irma’s “absolutely historic, destructive potential” as it neared his valuable Florida properties, saying his administration is doing everything it can to help with preparation, restoration and rebuilding.
“This is a storm of absolutely historic, destructive potential,” Mr. Trump revealed. “I ask everyone in the storm’s path to be vigilant and to heed all recommendations from government officials and law enforcement. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our people. . . . We will restore, recover and rebuild together as Americans.”
Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, wiping out most of Puerto Rico’s vulnerable infrastructure, including electrical grids, hospitals, roads, ports, food distribution warehouses and water delivery systems. Puerto Rico was literally on its knees. Without immediate mainland emergency relief people would begin to die. And so it goes.
Six days later, Trump flew to the devastated island to offer paper towels, big promises, snide remarks and complaints that the little island was costing the United States big bucks.
“Everybody watching can really be very proud of what is taking place in Puerto Rico,” Mr Trump told the television cameras, adding that Hurricane Maria was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina.”
“I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you have thrown our budget a little out of whack because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. That’s fine because we have saved a lot of lives.”
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló responded by reporting residents with access to clean water had dropped considerably after some of the generators powering the water and sewage authority ran out of fuel. He emphasized that fuel, food, and electricity were in short supply and the situation was growing worse by the hour.
The three-star Army general appointed by the Pentagon to oversee the slow-motion relief efforts said he would like to activate local reservists or National Guard members rather than bringing troops from the mainland after Trump said they were busy cleaning up from Irma and Category 4 Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston in August.
“Many of them are trying to take care of their families,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said, adding “they [Puerto Ricans] know the place, it just makes a lot better sense doing that. We are bringing in more helicopters, more medical units, more logistics units.”
It barely happened. The waste and mismanagement in Puerto Rico remains phenomenal. A year later, pockets of misery in little Puerto Rico — one-tenth the size of South Carolina — are still without electricity, reliable water supplies, roads and bridges, isolating them in remote jungle enclaves.
On Aug. 28, the Puerto Rican government announced that 2,975 citizens had died from the storm’s impact. Trump has yet to voice any responsibility, concern or official grief for their lost lives.
His heartless indifference is likely a Trumpian psychotic response to a presumed slight. In April 2017, Trump accused Democrats of wanting to “shut [the] government if we don’t bail out Puerto Rico,” a reference to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson’s efforts to address a healthcare funding crisis on the island.
The Democrats’ central committee retorted by suggesting Trump was partly to blame for Puerto Rico’s economic crisis due to an unpaid bill he left for his failed island golf course.
“Trump conveniently left out the fact that his golf course on the island defaulted, like so many of his other failed business schemes,” the Democrats’ statement read. “The failure left Puerto Rican taxpayers with a nearly $33 million bill, another example of Trump’s many scams that make him wealthier and con hardworking families.”
Trump never apologizes. He prefers boldly lying. On Tuesday he said, “I think Puerto Rico (emergency response effort) was incredibly successful.” Ask Puerto Rico, he urged.
Rosselló responded, “The historical relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington is unfair and unAmerican. It is certainly not a successful relationship.”
Trump desperately needs to do better in the Carolinas.