Trump’s first appearance in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria was a total disaster.
He suggested to the people of Puerto Rico, who have been suffering without food, clean water, medicine, shelter and electrical power since the hurricane, that Maria was not a “real catastrophe”, and a bizarre comparison of Maria to the death toll of Hurricane Katrina, and made a snide joke about how the hurricane victims of Puerto Rico would throw off the federal budget.
All of this came just a few days after Trump picked a fight with the mayor of San Juan, who has been hard at work to help her people. He also claimed that the U.S. recovery efforts had largely responded to Puerto Rico’s desperate people, despite all evidence to the contrary. He eagerly praised the work of the FEMA and the U.S. military, even though the campaign was clearly undersized and late in coming.“
Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands. You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people,” said Trump.
He got this wrong in several ways. First of all, the body count in Puerto Rico only seems low, because bodies have been piling up in morgues and the official count has not been able to keep pace, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. He is also making an unfair comparison between Maria and Katrina, which was the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history since 1928.
Even worse, after his briefing, Trump visited a church and playfully tossed desperately needed supplies, including toilet paper and paper towels, into the crowd of stricken people.
Since the hurricane, Trump has been obsessed with the political connotations of the disaster, even when praising the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló.
“He’s not even from my party and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did. Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He was saying it like it was, and he gave us the highest rates,” said Trump. Trump is clearly taking a cheap shot at the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump and the administration’s response to Maria.
But Trump’s strange, tone-deaf behavior didn’t stop there. During his briefing he made an apparent attempt at a joke by saying: “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack. That’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.” His comment is on the back of repeatedly lambasting Puerto Rico for debt, and a failing economy, which he blames for Puerto Rico’s slow recovery from the hurricane.
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Image Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci. Changes: cropped, resized, text added. Original Here.