Four days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Kanye West uttered the words, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on national television. Bush later referred to that moment as, “the low point of my Presidency.” That says a lot given that 9/11 also happened on his watch. It should be noted that years later Kanye later apologized to Bush. In the heat of the moment in times of great frustration, things get said. To some West’s words will always be the truth, to others, he did a great disservice to “W.”
If one believes actions speak louder than words. Ten days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Donald Trump has had plenty of words. He’s often claimed the Federal response to the double impact of Hurricane’s Maria and Irma as “unprecedented.” It may be the truest statement of all he has made.
By all accounts, the Federal Government did a good job (along with State and local governments from around the nation) of getting supplies and responders to Puerto Rico. Huge Containers remain stacked on ships at the dock, not unloaded because there are few drivers for trucks to disperse them. Responders huddle in the air-conditioned Convention Center, having meetings or waiting for assignments. Most of the Hospitals are still without power. Nursing homes are unable to feed their patients. The death toll rises each day. While Trump brags of his excellent response. That the government response would be insufficient was predictable. FEMA and every other Department are woefully understaffed because Trump hasn’t bothered to fill positions or when he has, often with unqualified campaign cronies.
That the government response would be insufficient was predictable. FEMA and every other Department from the State Department to Housing ad Urban Development are woefully understaffed because Trump hasn’t bothered to fill positions. When he has, often with unqualified campaign cronies.
Initially, the Governor of Puerto Rico and the Mayor of San Juan praised the government response. The Governor, in particular, was effusive but included reservations that more was needed. The Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, also lauded the initial effort. But as time passed and water and food were not being delivered, she began to speak out. After days of not being heard, she issued a statement literally begging for help while Trump officials talked of their efforts as a “feel good story.” The President himself, unable to acknowledge anything other than perfection. Only spoke of how great he was doing, refusing initially to waive shipping restrictions to Puerto Rico as had been done for mainland locations in earlier hurricanes. This would only increase the cost of goods to Puerto Rico, under pressure he ultimately relented. This he admitted was at the behest of his friends in the shipping industry.
The island is almost completely without power which the bureaucracy of the Federal Government fails to recognize. They want requests by E-mail, printed documents and letters, they want Mayors in remote locations where the roads are gone to come in person to request help.
Unable to show empathy for the Mayor who was pleading on behalf of her people. Trump does what only Trump in that situation would do, he attacked the Mayor. In his tweets, he first claimed: “she’s been told by Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” Next, he attacked her “poor leadership” and said, “they want everything done for them” adding the Federal workers were doing a “fantastic job.” Mayor Cruz has said literally, “We are dying!” Trump says he’s doing a great job! Trump managed to get his tweets out before his tee time where he’s no doubt “monitoring the situation.”
Does Donald Trump care about the American citizens of Puerto Rico? Trump has demonstrated his disdain for brown and black people in America and around the world. Why would Puerto Rico be any different? Plus they voted for Hillary Clinton.
He’s more concerned about the debt owed to Wall Street Banks than the lives of the people. In many of his tweets, he mentions the debt first and the American citizens as an aside. He’s already talking about how Puerto Rico can “pay back” the cost of relief efforts.
The Mayor of San Juan responded to Trump’s tweets by refusing to become distracted and focusing on saving lives. Since Hurricane Maria hit the island, Trump has been much more engaged in attacking black NFL players and their mothers protesting injustice, advocating fines, firings, and boycotts. He’s been focused on the swampish behavior of his Cabinet, spending millions to private and military planes. He’s been working on his golf game. To the dying Puerto Ricans… he sent some water, too bad if they can’t actually drink it.
Note: After several days, the US Army has been given control of logistics and we pray things will turn around shortly. A lot of good is being done by FEMA, the Red Cross, and fellow Puerto Ricans serving their neighbors. Good is being done, not nearly enough! Trump sums up the situation in his own words:
“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water”