As residents of Puerto Rico prepare for what is forecast to strengthen today into Hurricane Dorian, they cannot help but remember the dismissive and insulting way Donald Trump treated them when Hurricane Maria devastated the island two years ago. Although they need no reminder, Trump is already giving it to them hours before Dorian’s first raindrop even touches down.
“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted yesterday morning. “Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere.’” Far from being an expression of sympathy and camaraderie, Trump’s tweet is one big exasperation. For Trump, any person, place or thing on this planet is defined based on its value to him, and he appears to treat Puerto Rico like a bunch of selfish people intentionally putting themselves into the eyes of hurricanes to get his money and attention.
Not only is Trump’s tweet a disgusting way to prepare his constituents for an impending storm, but it is completely inaccurate. As San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz explained on the phone to CNN last night, “The president continues to express lies because the truth really does not suit him. As you said, it’s not $92 billion, it is close to $42 billion. It’s close to between $12.6 and $14 billion dollars that have come to Puerto Rico and still, things have not worked appropriately.”
When a potentially damaging hurricane is on track to slam a region that has already suffered death and destruction from a similar and recent one, words of unity, encouragement, and commitment from the Commander-in-Chief are in order. But such a natural and customary display of humanity is not within Draft-Dodging Donald’s programming. Instead, Trump is treating Puerto Rico — a commonwealth that is part of the United States and inhabited by American citizens — as a proverbial thorn in his side.
Since Trump took office, perhaps the one moment of joy he has derived from Puerto Rico is when he visited in the aftermath of Maria and grinned before lobbing paper towel rolls at the suffering populace. As the cameras rolled, Trump paused to remark, “There’s a lot of love in this room,” relishing every minute of his faux-savior cameo like a child who commands the gaze of his doting parents as he tosses rings on cones at a carnival. If Trump loathes the idea of being President while Puerto Rico recovers from another hurricane, the good news is he can resign today. Rather than throw paper towels, Trump should just throw in the towel.