Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave lengthy remarks about the situation in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, almost all of which consisted of compliments he said people were paying him for how well he was handling it.

At a joint press availability with the President of Spain, Trump made the following claims:

And a massive effort is underway, and we have been really treated very, very nicely by the governor and by everybody else. They know how hard we're working and what a good job we're doing.

... As Governor Rosselló just told me this morning, the entire federal workforce is doing great work in Puerto Rico, and I appreciated his saying it. And he's saying it to anybody that will listen. Our team has been incredible after having gone through Texas and then Florida, with other stops along the way. And he further went on and he said, 'And through the Trump administration's leadership, the relationship between FEMA and my team is very, very strong.'

...I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. ...I’ve heard that before about was I preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. So I will also say that -- again, I read you part of his quote -- but the Governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the great job that we're doing. We did a great job in Texas, a great job in Florida, a great job in Louisiana. We hit little pieces of Georgia and Alabama. And frankly, we're doing -- and it’s the most difficult job because it’s on the island. It’s on an island in the middle of the ocean. It’s out in the ocean.

...And the Governor said we are doing a great job. In fact, he thanked me specifically for FEMA and all of the first responders in Puerto Rico. And we're also mentioning with that the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was devastated. So we are totally focused on that.

...We have had tremendous reviews from government officials. And this morning, the governor made incredible statements about how well we're doing.

...The governor has been so incredible in his statements about the job we're doing. We're doing a great job.

...So everybody has said it's amazing the job that we've done in Puerto Rico. We're very proud of it.

...So I think we've done a really good job.

...We are going to do far more than anybody else would ever be able to do. And it's being recognized as such.

Strangely, Trump also singled out the mayor of the capital city of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, for her "kind words on FEMA etc.We are working hard. Much food and water there/on way." Cruz did indeed praise FEMA workers on the ground--but in the context of condemning Trump's previous statements about Puerto Rico, in which he essentially blamed the commonwealth for the damage that Hurricane Maria inflicted on it.

In an emotional interview on CNN, Cruz tore into Trump for making Puerto Rico's relative poverty an issue during the relief effort. "You don't put debt above people. You put people above debt." Asked if relief supplies were coming fast enough, Cruz said, "No. No. And I'm sorry if that's not politically correct... But the chain of command needs to work a little faster for the people."

Why does this matter?

  • How lavishly desperate local officials are praising him should not be the only thing a president cares about during a disaster relief effort.