Donald Trump has, by any objective measure, botched his federal response to the Puerto Rico post-hurricane crisis on a historically incompetent level. Now, even as his belated and insufficient efforts struggle to get out of the gate, he’s desperate to spin tall tales of a successful response. That’s led him to say some rather stupid and insensitive things. Now he’s stuck his foot in his mouth regarding dead Americans.
Trump is now reduced to bragging that thanks to his wonderful response to the Puerto Rico crisis, not all that many people have died there. In fact he said it today in exact words: “The loss of life, it’s always tragic. But it’s been incredible. The results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life” (link). By now the majority of the American public is well aware of how horribly things are going on Puerto Rico, with images of devastation being displayed on the nightly news, and the Mayor of San Juan literally begging for any kind of help.
Even against this tragic backdrop, Trump is boldly boasting about how his response has been so “incredible” that only sixteen people have died. The cold hard reality is that almost none of these people had to die. It’s not as if they died during the hurricane. They’ve died for various reasons related to the inexcusably delayed federal response by the Trump administration. And because it can’t be stressed enough, the people in Puerto Rico are United States citizens. That doesn’t make their lives any more valuable than the lives of anyone else. But it does mean their well-being is Donald Trump’s responsibility.
The Puerto Rico crisis isn’t Donald Trump’s Katrina. In terms of the failure of his response, it’s Katrina times ten. Now Trump’s own mouth is adding insult to injury.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report