Donald Trump’s off-the-rails rally in Dallas on Thursday has mostly been making news for how he used it to vent about his impeachment – but he managed to be astoundingly ignorant and offensive even without the topic of impeachment coming up. As he gears up for re-election (for real this time, not just because he’s holding another rally), Trump has to make the case that people are better off under him than they were four years ago, something that’s become increasingly difficult, at least if he were to stick to the truth.
While Trump’s lies in the past typically revolved around the success of the stock market – something he hasn’t been able to brag about as much lately – at his Dallas rally, he had a bizarre new reason to claim why he deserves re-election: Hurricane Harvey. You read that right. He claims that Harvey, one of the worst storms in modern history, leaving $125 billion in damage, was actually an economic boom – and the people of Texas have Donald Trump to thank for the “billions and billions of dollars” he gave them in federal disaster relief aid.
“You made a fortune on the hurricane!” he shouted at the rally, ignorant of the fact that dozens of people were killed by Harvey and many more are still trying to recover financially. While The Dallas Morning News said this was Trump’s attempt at making a joke – a concept that’s largely foreign to him – but there’s nothing funny about his words. Beyond being offensive on its face, he’s implying that people should be grateful for him doing what the government should be doing anyway. There’s also the inevitable comparison this draws to Hurricane Maria, in which Trump completely failed on the civilian response and over 3,000 people died on his watch – a number that he continues to lie about.
The Texas Democratic Party was also not amused, with Rep. Joaquin Castro and Chairman Gabriel Hinojosa openly condemning his words. To the surprise of no one, the state’s two Republican senators, including John Cornyn who’s up for re-election next year, said nothing, fearing the wrath of another rage tweet. This episode is largely trivial, in the scope of the horrendous crimes Trump and his administration are currently guilty of – but it epitomizes why he’s unfit to lead and how the Republican leadership is complicit in everything he does. Political pundits have forecast Texas as possibly turning blue next year – knowing how Trump and the state’s Republican leadership act in the face of disaster, that can’t come a moment too soon.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making