With Hurricane Florence approaching North and South Carolina and Virginia, President Trump spoke from his Oval Office this afternoon regarding the threat. This should’ve been an easy task: the president tells the public about a looming natural disaster, strongly emphasizes the potential dangers, and urges everyone to follow the instructions of the emergency-response officials.
But Trump definitely isn’t a normal president. Trump began his comments assuring the American public that his administration is currently “as ready as anybody’s ever been” – bragging is always important – before saying the approaching hurricane is (and admittedly this is accurate) “tremendously big and tremendously wet.”
Eventually, Trump opened it up to some questions, and an intelligent reporter asked about what lessons the administration learned since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year. So, Trump said… well, what you’d expect him to.
“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful….I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about. […]
“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success. Texas, we had been given A+’s for. Florida, we’ve been given A+’s for. I think in a certain way the best job we did was Puerto Rico, but nobody would understand that. I mean, it’s harder to understand. It was very hard. very hard thing to do, because of the fact they had no electric before the storms hit – it was dead, as you probably know. So we’ve gotten a lot of receptivity, a lot of thanks for the job we’ve done in Puerto Rico.”
Trump’s answer lasted two long minutes – during which time he suggested that he’s learned no lessons at all from last year’s devastation of Puerto Rico because he has the delusion that the federal response was somehow an “incredible” success.
The president has now lied several times that Puerto Rico’s electricity was “dead” before they got hit. That’s not true.
Even worse, Puerto Rico’s death toll from Hurricane Maria is now 2,975 – and when nearly 3,000 Americans perish on a president’s watch, he shouldn’t describe the massive disaster as being “an incredible unsung success.”
Trump’s rhetoric is at odds with the president’s own administration’s assessments. Last month, BuzzFeed reported:
An internal assessment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has found that the agency was woefully unprepared to deal with a set of storms of the size and strength of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the last of which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.
FEMA’s own findings confirm what has been reported for nearly a year: that the government’s handling of the catastrophe in Puerto Rico was dramatically inadequate. The report also cuts against President Donald Trump’s glowing comments about how his administration handled the recovery — at one point he downplayed the severity of the storm’s aftermath.
So, Hurricane Maria was a test for the incompetent Trump administration, and it failed miserably. The president wants to pretend that the crisis was a huge triumph, but nobody should believe such a heinous lie.