Thursday, October 12, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He responded to criticism of his Puerto Rico hurricane response by threatening to end it altogether.

Saying that the island had problems "of its own making" before Hurricane Maria devastated it, Trump warned the 3.5 million American citizens on Puerto Rico that "FEMA, the Military & the First Responders" would not stay there forever. All disaster relief eventually ends, in the case of hurricanes months or even years after the event. But it's not clear if any President has ever before emphasized that fact so early or so pointedly. Most of the "first responders" in Puerto Rico are Puerto Ricans. Hardly any military resources were deployed to the island, and many of those only after their absence became politically embarrassing for the Trump administration. 

Trump has made no similar comments about the relief efforts for Harvey or Irma. The combined costs of those two hurricanes ($290 billion), which hit American citizens on the mainland rather than those living in Puerto Rico, is expected to be about ten times higher than those for Maria.

According to a White House source, Trump's comments this morning were a direct response to being criticized by the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz.

As of today, 83% of Puerto Ricans lack electricity, and 34% are without access to drinking water. Many Puerto Ricans, desperate for water, have resorted to drinking contaminated or polluted groundwater

Why is this a problem?

  • Presidents shouldn't try to pick and choose which American citizens are worthy of disaster relief.
  • Threatening 3.5 million Americans because one of them criticized you is not so much unpresidential as it is evil.