Alan Zendell, September 13, 2018
If it weren’t so disturbing this might be funny, but then, there’s really very little about hurricanes that’s funny. I know because I spent my honeymoon in one of the most devastating storms of the twentieth century. The only good news was that we weren’t among the seventy-six people who died in it.
After the storms that wracked Houston and Puerto Rico, last year, we knew exactly what to expect from Donald Trump as Florence approached. He likes to think he’s unpredictable, but there was no doubt about how he would behave.
Having learned from the mistakes of the Bush administration when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, FEMA was prepared when Harvey blasted Houston last year. Since our narcissistic president loves to portray himself as a populist hero, and Texas was a bright red state in 2017, Trump made sure Texas received all the assistance it needed, and loudly applauded himself for the efforts of first responders and FEMA staff, most of which he had nothing to do with.
When Irma threatened Florida and the Gulf Coast, Trump was in full voice again, expressing great concern for residents of all the red states in its path. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump’s ego, Irma fizzled before it could do much damage anywhere but Marco Island.
If we had any doubt about the sincerity of his forced attempts to appear compassionate, they were erased when Hurricane Maria destroyed the power grid in Puerto Rico, disrupted transportation across the island, and caused a half million people to move to the mainland when it became clear that the Trump administration was ignoring their plight. Trump’s disdain for the people of Puerto Rico, backed by his Republican-controlled Congress was one of the most embarrassing moments of an administration that has had so many of them, I’ve lost count.
You see, Puerto Rico has zero electoral votes, and its population of over three million American citizens does not have representation in Congress, and if it did it would always vote blue. And while we’re discussing colors, Puerto Rico’s main problem is that almost all of its citizens are brown. So today, when Trump lavished great praise on himself over his unrecognized brilliant success at saving Puerto Rico from devastation, rating his performance an A-plus, his disingenuousness was the only transparent thing about his presidency.
Not all of this week’s hurricane related hypocrisy can be attributed to Donald Trump. Yesterday, as I was waiting for my car to be serviced, someone had tuned the television in the customer lounge to the Christian Broadcast Network, and we were all treated to the spectacle of a TV preacher assuring his flock that he would pray to Jesus who would force Hurricane Florence to change course and miss the Carolinas. And by the way, if you want to be sure Jesus hears us, just keep those donations flowing.
As the walls of the Mueller investigation continued to close in on the president, we witnessed hypocrisy that was overshadowed only by its blatancy. It became clear during this week’s Senate hearings that from Trump’s point of view, the main qualification possessed by Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court was his documented stance on presidential power. Trump believes he can count on Kavanaugh to protect him from Mueller.
If as many people fear, Kavanaugh also casts a deciding vote to overturn Roe v Wade, he would make several red states very happy, though Trump himself never cared one way or another about either women’s health or abortion rights until it affected vote counts. If we needed any more evidence that the Republican majority cared only about having another justice who will solidify their legislative ambitions, Senator Mike Lee (R, Utah) provided it when he devoted his time during Kavanaugh’s hearing to questioning him about the nature of his writing implements.
Finally, this week, President Trump had yet another opportunity to play hero as he lamented the deaths of 3,000 Americans on the anniversary of 9/11 and reminded us that his border wall would assure that it never happens again. But as he was decrying the murderous acts of the Islamic terrorists who flew planes into the wall-less twin towers and the Pentagon, his absurd denials that virtually the same number of Americans in Puerto Rico were killed during Hurricane Maria and its aftermath reached the worst level of hypocrisy yet.
In Trump’s alternate history, only a dozen or so Puerto Ricans died as a result of the storm. The revised number of casualties, which has been reported by the government of Puerto Rico and verified by both FEMA and House Speaker Paul Ryan, were made up by Democrats to make Trump look bad. Of course they were. As usual, it’s all about Trump, no matter what the subject is.