People saw Harvey coming. It wasn't invisible, like the 6-3-1/2" pooka that only Jimmy Stewart could see in the play and movie. The massive hurricane was not only reported prominently, but there were numerous stories of Republicans specifically warning Trump to handle it well and not fall into the same hole of Callous Indifference that George W. Bush disappeared into. And what's stunning is that whatever happens with the clean-up at this point, Trump has probably already far-exceeded Bush in mind-numbing insensitivity. Even if the disaster clean-up and relief program goes perfectly -- and given the overwhelming degree of damage and work that is need, it seems that that is a near impossibility for anybody, let along someone who has only shown cosmic incompetence -- Trump amazingly lived down to his monumentally-low expectations.
It began with him actually issuing a pardon the night that Hurricane Harvey hit, which was thoughtless enough whoever the pardon was handed to. But given that it was for a pardon of Arizona's racist sheriff Joe Arpaio who had run what he himself called "concentration camps" for immigrant prisoners and even once forced a woman to give birth while shackled and far, far more abuses against Hispanics -- the pardon was widely viewed with disdain as a cowardly, mean-spirited, insensitive act. If this was the only bad thing Trump did during Hurricane Harvey, it was horrible enough to cause massive problems on numerous levels for his administration (not the least of which is it raises yet another specter for abuse of power, besides which not only does the public generally hate controversial pardons -- Gerald Ford largely lost re-election because of it -- but the Arpaio pardon had a mere 20% approval in Arizona).
And then, beyond even that, which was plenty-enough alone, in the middle of the horrific hurricane Trump tweeted a book recommendation (which is unethical all on its own) for Joe Clarke, yet another sheriff he'll likely have to issue a pardon for, as well as tweeted about his infamous wall (still trying to fake-insist Mexico will pay for it despite a) the public having the transcript of Trump telling the president of Mexico he understands that they won't pay for it, and b) him just saying days earlier that he wanted the U.S. Congress to act on building the wall or else he'd try to shut down the government), as well as tweets about his upcoming political trip to Missouri -- making sure to let us know that in the 2016 election he won the state...and by "a lot" (no, seriously, honestly, Trump actually "tweeted" this!!), and other yammerings. All the while, the Houston area -- the fourth-largest city in the United States -- was, is getting pummeled by this monstrous hurricane.
And in his recent "tweets" on public disasters, what Trump offers to the nation is ""Wow", "Good luck everyone", "Thanks" (to the people of Houston), and "Best regards". That's the best Trump has. Those aren't the words of a leader. Or a thoughtful adult. That is the way one avoids human understanding of the the suffering that others are facing.
In Trump's "tweets" about Hurricane Harvey -- tweets, for goodness sake!! -- he keeps referring to the devastation as "HISTORIC," "unprecedented" and "a 500 year event," but to be very clear that's just his way of whining to make sure you'll hopefully believe "It's not MY fault." Except the huge problem with his hopes for that is Trump dismisses Climate Change as a "Chinese hoax," cuts FEMA funds in his proposed budget, doesn't even yet have a head of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), hasn't nominated a director of the Homeland Security which oversees FEMA, and left the Paris Accord. Other people actually understood that Hurricane Harvey is precisely the sort of natural weather event that, because of Climate Change, has been happening -- in hurricanes alone we saw it with Hurricane Sandy and saw it with Hurricane Katrina -- and is very highly foreseeable,
So, whatever happens in the disaster relief -- and the disaster is monumental, and there can't help but be massive holes and limitations and problems under the best of circumstances with the best of prepared and concerned leadership, none of which described the so-called president -- Trump has guaranteed on as many levels as possible that he has already failed disastrously.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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