Donald Trump’s visit to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico has been compared, in terms of gravitas and affect, to a “party host” or the “coach of a winning team,” as he assured Puerto Ricans, “we’re going to help you out. Have a good time.” He visited a church which was distributing supplies and tossed rolls of paper towel into the crowd, while glancing at a pile of solar-powered flashlights and saying, “Flashlights, you don’t need ‘em anymore;” oblivious to the fact that 95% of the island is still without electricity. This led to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz calling him, “The miscommunicator in chief.” This is what she said to Joy Reid on MSNBC:
“’I said to him it’s about saving lives, it’s not about politics,’ and he didn’t respond. This was a PR seventeen minute meeting. There was no exchange with anybody, with none of the mayors and in fact this terrible and abominable view of him throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people, it does not embody the spirit of the American nation. That is not the land of the free the home of the brave, the beacon of democracy that people have learned to look up to across the world.”
“He was insulting to the people of Puerto Rico, he said you’ve taken our budget out of whack because of all the money we’ve thrown here, he kind of minimized what we’ve gone through and compared us to Katrina...you know what they’re [a lot of people in Puerto Rico] dying. They don’t have the medical resources, they don’t have the dialysis, their oxygen tanks are starting not to work because they don’t have generators for hospitals, hospitals are just collapsing because of the generator situation. There are a lot of pictures...mayors are starting to talk a lot more about what they are encountering.
“I said this morning that he really has a communication issue, mis-communicator in chief. You don’t go to another place where people are in peril and are suffering and you just kind of hover around in a helicopter, without having some kind words to say, it’s just common courtesy.
Reid: “When you talk to other mayors do you get the sense that they feel that they have to praise Donald Trump in order to get the full aid and attention that they deserve?”
Cruz: “Yes, and the reason is simply one: most of the people in Puerto Rico don’t have any access to a phone. Even if they have a phone.”
She went on about the interconnectivity issues being a major problem and said that it isn’t a logistical impossibility to get service restored. Likewise, generators are a relatively simple commodity in a disaster area and those have been sorely under furnished as well. But that’s understandable when there are people in FEMA mis-characterizing the botched Hurricane Maria effort as “the most complex logistical undertaking ever.” Please. This country was driving electric cars on the moon almost a half century ago. Mayor Cruz is right that the problem is no communication and moreover no leadership.