By Kevin Knox
In all the years I have followed American politics I have experienced many events that can only be accurately described as “aneurysm-inducing.”
Ever since the 2016 presidential election began, these events have begun to occur more frequently and much more rapidly. Late September, I was forced to endure yet another aneurysm courtesy of President Donald J. Trump.
On Sept. 20, a devastating category 5 hurricane made landfall on the American territory of Puerto Rico. With the island being bombarded with intense winds and rain for over 30 hours, meteorologist Jeff Weber told Vox that “it was as if a 50-60 mile wide tornado raged across Puerto Rico, like a buzz saw.” Much of the island has been left without water or power.
A spokesman for the Puerto Rican government, Carlos Mercader, told PBS “we have full communities that 80 or 90 percent of (the infrastructure) are a complete disaster. They are totally lost.”
Yet despite the fact that an American territory has suffered such a catastrophic event, the American government has treated the situation with an absurdly low sense of urgency.
The Atlantic reports that President Trump did not hold a situation room meeting on the catastrophe until Sept. 26, six days after Hurricane Maria made landfall. The U.S. Navy deployed a ship to bring supplies to Puerto Rico that day, however it did not leave port until Sept. 28 and did not arrive at Puerto Rico until Oct. 3.
On Sept. 29, the president responded to the criticism of the government’s half hearted response to the crisis by eloquently stating “This is an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.” Like most of the things that come out of Trump’s mouth, it likely made sense “bigly,” but for those of us with functioning brains, it was confusing, rambling nonsense that did nothing to address the criticism or offer any assurance that Puerto Rico would ever receive the level of aid they so desperately need.
The Atlantic reports that in the days after this, the U.S. government released several statements about the relief efforts. Many of which contradicted each other, or were contradicted by Puerto Rican officials. On Oct. 3, almost two weeks after the hurricane made landfall, Trump finally visited the island, ready to make such a display of buffoonery that all who bore witness might smash their televisions and computers in a wild frenzy.
During his public meeting in an auditorium of some kind in San Juan, the president had the audacity to chastise Puerto Ricans for “(throwing) our budget a little out of whack.”
Oh, but it’s alright because he prefaced this statement by saying “I hate to tell you this” and also added “That’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.”
In years past, a sitting president making such an insulting, backhanded remark to American citizens that had just experienced such a catastrophic event might have blown our minds, but it seems we have become so numb to the idiotic antics of this greasy oompaloompa that we might actually have been more surprised had he actually said something sensible.
Immediately following that statement, the president then belittled their plight, comparing it to “real” disasters. “If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands, you can be very proud.”
The cherry on top, however, was Trump taking the time to pass out supplies to the crowd that had gathered for the event. And by “pass out supplies,” I actually mean toss single rolls of paper towels – which the president described as “beautiful, soft towels. Good towels” – into the crowd in the same manner that cheerleaders toss t-shirts into the crowd at sporting events.
At this point the entire situation has left me catatonic.
I have no words. No amount of creative explicatives can say anything that the events which have unfolded can’t say better themselves.
What we have is a president who cares far more about photo-opportunities than the people of Puerto Rico and a lazy uncoordinated government response to the crisis that has devastated their home.
There is little hope in any of this changing and besides, our commander- in -chief has already moved on to much more important matters, such as waging another petty and idiotic Twitter war with a former Republican congressman.
God help Puerto Rico, because our government isn’t.