No Trump Isn’t ‘Doing a Great Job’ in Puerto Rico
I noticed my piece yesterday calling out the terrible job Trump’s doing helping Puerto Rico with the Hurricane hit a real nerve with the Trump apologists on my Facebook page.
Here was the piece:
Puerto Rico is shaping up to be Trump's Katrina https://t.co/d4rnQOGCX8
— mike sax (@mikesaxny2) September 29, 2017
By the way, please like our Facebook page. Did I mention I’m running for Congress?
The Trump apologists all insist Trump is doing a great job in Puerto Rico. Why do they all think this? Probably because: Trump told them that. And they take everything he says at face value. The one person they choose to believe is the guy who lies 70% of the time.
And Puerto Rico’s Governor did come on Fox News and say he was grateful for the phone call with Trump.
And look-that’s all well and fine, so far as it goes. Any US President in this position should call Puerto Rico’s Governor to be sure. Trump did do that. But a phone call in itself won’t help all the people without water or electricity.
A phone call is fine. But where’s the followup?
And what’s shaping up now is a disconnect between the happy talk of Trump, his WH and to an extent, FEMA, and the folks actually on the ground in Puerto Rico.
The San Juan Mayor is calling Trump out: ‘It’s not a good news story.’ Damn it this is a people are dying story.
San Juan mayor's harrowing plea: "I am begging. We are dying here…we are going to see something close to a genocide"https://t.co/VXMpznElTU
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 30, 2017
“Trump’s upbeat Puerto Rico rhetoric clashes with reality on the ground.”
“President Donald Trump says his administration is deftly responding to the devastating hurricane that leveled Puerto Rico, but the jarring gap between his rhetoric and the dramatic reports about dire conditions there is raising fresh questions about the effectiveness of recovery efforts on the island.”
“As his administration grapples with the third hurricane to hit the United States in a matter of weeks, and as the relief operation in Puerto Rico kicks into gear, Trump has repeatedly said he’s getting positive reviews. “Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello just stated: ‘The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered,’” Trump tweeted Friday.
“But nine days after Hurricane Maria knocked out the island’s power, communications system and some roadways, Americans there are still struggling to get supplies and phone service.”
“There’s always a danger whenever you start responding in a way that says, ‘Hey we’ve done a great job,’ and there are still people in need,” said Thomas Atkin, a former Coast Guard admiral and principal deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. “It’s kind of like a football coach at halftime saying, ‘Hey, we’re winning.’ You still have half a game to play.”
“Publicly, Trump and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló have praised each other, with the president claiming Friday morning on Twitter, “FEMA and First Responders are amazing. Governor said ‘great job!’” But while Rosselló has repeatedly expressed gratitude for the federal help, he told MSNBC on Friday that the federal “response still is not where it needs to be.”
That’s the reality. Things are extremely tough in Puerto Rico. They need solutions from Trump not a victory dance.
“Damn it, this is not a good news story,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told CNN on Friday. “This is a people are dying story. This is a life or death story. This is a there’s a truck-load of stuff that cannot be taken to people story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water.”
“The relief official who spoke to POLITICO from San Juan said mainland officials need to reorient their thinking about the depth of the problems in Puerto Rico.”
“We have to think of this as societal collapse: no power, no water, no food, no nothing,” the official said. “We came in thinking this would be a traditional model of disaster response … It is up to us to keep everything moving. Civil society is pretty much gone, and we didn’t realize that until like 36 or 48 hours ago. And who knows when it’s going to end.”
Civil society is pretty much gone.
Meanwhile Sean Hannity is toasting Donald Trump.
It does seem that Puerto Rico is tricky in a number of ways. From what Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was saying last night on Maddow, it’s not that the supplies and competent officials aren’t there but the logistics of getting the resources out aren’t there.
Also some in Puerto Rico are worried about protecting the island’s independence-which makes it harder to get the help to them.
“Part of the problem is, as Trump has said, that it’s more difficult to move resources to Puerto Rico than to Texas or Florida, which were also hit by major storms recently.”
“This is a lot harder than people think,” said Craig Fugate, Obama’s FEMA director who was largely praised for his work at the agency.
“But Puerto Rico’s government also was less prepared for Hurricane Maria than Texas or Florida were. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was already decayed from years of neglect and was damaged further by Hurricane Irma days before Maria hit. Once the power and cell service were knocked out, along with the roads, the government’s ability to operate was crippled.”
“At the same time, federal officials are hampered in how decisively they can respond in Puerto Rico. Local leaders bristle at the idea the military should take over operations, for example, valuing their independence from Washington. Instead, they have requested more helicopters, military help to fix roads, and faster approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for companies seeking to fix communications systems.”
“Puerto Rico isn’t Texas. It isn’t Florida. It’s a world of its own. And it’s a complete mess,” said one official, in a telephone interview from San Juan, who is assisting the administration and didn’t want to speak publicly for fear of upsetting the alliance between the governments in San Juan and Washington.”
The sense that the Trump administration’s response has been off-key has not helped.
“When Trump has tried to point out Puerto Rico’s infrastructure problems, he has come across as blaming it, bringing up that the island was in debt “to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with,” as he tweeted Monday. Pointing out the difference in preparedness compared to Texas and Florida reads as “talking down to the victim,” said Tevi Troy, who served as a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush for domestic policy when Hurricane Katrina hit.”
“Local officials dispute that characterization as well. “We’ve been here for 10 days and we still don’t have reliable communications…And that’s our fault? That’s bad management on our part?” asked one Puerto Rico official who also did not want to be named so as not to disrupt relations with Washington.
“Trump raised congressional ire on Wednesday when he explained a reluctance to waive the Jones Act, a shipping law, because he was hearing from “a lot of shippers and … a lot of people who work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” The administration waived the act on Thursday and said it had done so as soon as Puerto Rico’s governor made the request.
The point is that as bad as things are in Puerto Rico right now, it’s not the time for Trump to be patting himself on the back. Even if it’s not all Trump’s fault, it still rankles for him to say how great things are-when they’re not.
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