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Trump, Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria

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Trump, Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria

Trump, Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria
September 14
18:39 2018

According to the obsessively anti-Trump news media, the deaths in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria – and the seemingly slow recovery and reconstruction – are the fault of the president, period. Not only is he to blame for the current situation in the island province but is heartlessly insensitive to any and all human suffering.

According to Trump, however, things could not have gone better. Under his leadership, the federal government in all its manifestations – FEMA, Homeland Security, the military, the Republican Congress – responded as best they could under the circumstances.

Somewhere between these two divergent narratives lies the truth.

As is too often the case, the media criticism lacked detail – delineating exactly what Trump failed to do or what he did that was so unresponsive to the crisis. Was there anything critical that Trump refused to authorize? I exclude requests for more money from that question because no matter how much relief cash has been provided, it would be determined by critics to be not enough. No amount would have been satisfactory – and that reality does not apply to the Puerto Rican problem exclusively.

Before we consider what was done and what could have been done, we have to understand the situation in Puerto Rico when Maria was unleashing her wrath on its 3.3 million inhabitants. Of the 16 lands that the United States administers as protectorates, territories or insular areas – depending on who is doing the labeling – Puerto Rico is among the most impoverished. It also arguably suffers from the most corrupt local leadership. Much of its housing is third-world construction. Many residents live in areas without paved roads, dependable electricity, potable water and tertiary treatment plants.

As an island, the means to escape Maria in a timely fashion were not available. Unlike nearby Florida, Puerto Rico did not have hundreds of miles of highways to evacuate millions of people out of harm’s way. Puerto Rico was a disaster in the making for a direct hit from a major hurricane like Maria. The vulnerability of the Island for all the aforementioned reasons goes a long way to explain why 3,000 Puerto Ricans died from the impact and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Given the magnitude of the destruction, is it fair to say that the federal government’s response was irresponsibly inadequate? And what about the response from the local government?

The Democrat mayor of San Juan made a number of appearances – even recently – on the most consistently anti-Trump programs to lash out at the president for his lack of empathy. In her initial post-Maria appearances, she had had kinder words for Trump and unkind things to say about the Puerto Rican governor – who, according to rumors, she hopes to replace someday. Those things get lost in the past, and the elitist media have no reason to address any blame beyond the Oval Office.

That brings up another issue. In their obsession to focus all criticism on Trump, the left-wing media slander all those agencies and their people who were part of the rescue and recovery operation. They are literally blaming FEMA, Homeland Security, the Navy, the Army, the Coast Guard and others for not doing their job under the most difficult of circumstances.

By implication, they also blame the local authorities and even such independent agencies as the Red Cross.

Yes, there were unique problems. Supplies could only be brought in on American flagged ships until Trump waved that requirement. Ships with critical supplies were seen anchored in open waters because the Island’s wharves could not take them all in at one time – and there were not sufficient crafts to unload and taxi goods from ship to land. Electricity has been a daunting problem because it is not just a matter of stringing lines to remote regions. The generating plants have been damaged or destroyed.

There was also a matter of energy triage. Hospitals and critical services were the first priority. San Juan and other urban centers were restored before the less populated remote regions.

When there is an exceptional problem, one cannot expect normal precautions and standard operations to meet the challenge fully. There will be difficult problems, a depletion of resources and a few mistakes along the way. On the other hand, giving great meaning and negative spin to tossing paper towels into the audience is a contemptable trivialization of the issue.

Having said all that, Trump does himself and the presidency no good to gloss over the problems that arose – those learning opportunities. The response to the Puerto Rican disaster was NOT flawless. It was not a gold standard response. Mistakes were made at many levels.

Trump’s propensity to consider himself the solution to all problems is as wrong as making him the cause. By focusing everything on himself, he actually gives credence to critics who conversely lay all blame on him personally. We should not forget – even if the president does – that he heads an administration of a lot of people working hard every day. Most likely, the federal government and all those involved in the Puerto Rican recovery did the best they could — and even today, they are doing the best they can. The only real bad actors may be those who use every tragedy – every disaster – as an opportunity to politicize.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Roman
    Roman September 17, 18:25

    trump eats shit

    Reply to this comment
  2. tootsie
    tootsie September 17, 19:16

    When we have a disaster like right now we all work together and help each other if you don’t help your own and help put your country back together don’t blame us

    Reply to this comment
  3. Doc
    Doc September 18, 01:15

    Common knowledge to most American’s that the Socialist Lap Mutt Dimocrat Controlled MSM barks it’s disdain of Trump at every of the days minutes trying to distance America’s Trump supporters from him.Every false Dimwit allegation , paid off “distressed” female that claims Trump molested her, every fake “outrage” by Dimocrats and the never ending , as yet to find a single Shred of Evidence, Russian Collusion story that Dims fall back on after another one of their factless fleckless baseless anonymous allegations backfires on them.Think Stormy Daniels or better yet the “story” that the MSM Lied about when they claimed Trump had Raped his ex-wife.She stepped forward and shot that down in one fell swoop.The next day not one MSM outlet uttered a retraction of that Lie or even talked about it any longer. American’s know the DNC r Desperate for votes in the Mid Terms. The Lies will keep coming at a torrid pace up to the November elections and after the Dems LOSE more seats they will again claim Russians and Trump “fixed” the Election. Their low I.Q. mindless vagina hat wearing morons posing as DNC voters will take to the streets as told by Hillary , Obama and the rest of DNC “leaders” to voice the endless propaganda of America’s Socialist DNC whose November “Blue Wave” turned out to by a damp sewer the Dems have buried themselves in.They just keep digging deeper everyday with every new lie. Trump should by now have learned to stop focusing on himself and giving Dems ammo at every major event.No matter how great the Fed response was the Dems will find fault even when they have to make it up.I.E..The Dem Mayor of San Juan P.R. after Hurricane Marie mowed the island claiming they had no food or water and Trump had had not responded with Fed Aid while she was standing in FRONT OF PALATES OF UNOPENED WATER AND FOOD THAT CAME FROM Trumps Response to aid the ppl of P.R..That was a CNN report they ran complete with video. Dems and their Lap Mutts at the MSM are not very bright. They count on American’s short memories while shoveling their latest Trump Lies everyday.Pathetic!! Vite in November Mid Terms American’s. Stop the Dem Socialist.

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