President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter this morning to recap yesterday’s critiques of him and push back on the ones that annoy him the most. Today, that means (among other things) push back on… the number of people who died in Puerto Rico during and after Hurricane Maria.
Gang, I am truly at a loss on this one. I don’t know what the strategy here is.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
He’s specifically pushing back on Puerto Rico’s revised number of deaths resulting from Maria’s brutal destruction of the American territory. That number is actually from a couple weeks ago, but yesterday it was tossed around in response to Trump calling the response to Puerto Rico’s crisis “one of the best.”
A couple of points here.
First, if it wasn’t painfully clear before, it’s obvious that Donald Trump pays a lot of attention to the New York Times. They were one of the first to use that number in response to Trump’s comments yesterday.
President Trump patted himself on the back Tuesday for an “incredibly successful” job done in Puerto Rico, where the government estimates thatnearly 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria last year.
Speaking from the White House, Mr. Trump sought to assure the public that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready for Hurricane Florence, which is currently heading toward the Carolinas, saying, “We are as ready as anybody has ever been.”
He boasted that the federal government got excellent grades for its disaster response in Texas and Florida, but he complained that the even better job done in Puerto Rico had been ignored. “I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success,” Mr. Trump said.
Hence, the reason the anonymous op-ed was submitted there.
Second, this is not something he should have tweeted about. He has now kept that news in the cycle, and the press and his political opponents will use it to continue going after him and gain even more headlines in the process.
Lastly… he is absolutely incorrect. I’m not going to dispute the facts and figures, but it is guaranteed that he is way underselling it. The destruction of Puerto Rico was absolutely devastating, and we now know that millions of bottles of fresh water have been left sitting on a tarmac in Puerto Rico for more than a year.
That is clearly not the fault of the United States government (Trump or not), but it is a fault of the local government. It is proof that Washington D.C. did what they could, and that supplies and water were available, but the people on the ground were not doing everything they were supposed to.
Those bottles sat out while San Juan’s mayor had some custom hats and shirts blasting Donald Trump made for her TV appearances.
The devastation and death in Puerto Rico was absolutely horrifying, and denying those realities is outright insanity. The problems were not all Trump’s fault, but in denying them, Trump is making the story about himself when it should be about the victims of Hurricane Maria – victims who are Americans, mind you – and the destruction of their home.