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Was Trump’s whirlwind Puerto Rico trip helpful? It depends…



President Trump spent about five hours in Puerto Rico Tuesday, meeting with officials, making public remarks, and surveying the almost unbelievable damage left by Hurricane Maria.

How that trip went depends entirely on your political orientation. The left thinks he botched it, and his supporters think he nailed it. So the truth is somewhere in between.

Cracking a joke, the president said “Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

“Because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine,” he continued more seriously. “We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

Any joke or levity, or comparison to past disasters will bring out the horror masks from the left and its media lickspittles. Because the narrative is that Maria is the worst ever, no matter how many people died in Katrina.

One area of great speculation is if Trump would acknowledge San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had been deeply critical of Trump, and of course the president fired back at her on Twitter. Though Trump didn’t specifically thank Cruz, he did shake her hand. The left seemed to attach some oversized significance to this. To everyone else, it was just common courtesy.

Not to overstay his welcome, Air Force One departed an hour earlier than scheduled. That’s probably due to a couple of reasons. First, why stay longer when everything had been accomplished; and second, Trump committed to be in Las Vegas Wednesday. The turnaround time and logistics of moving the presidential entourage is considerable. The extra hour will be put to good use.


Trump Touts Relief Efforts In Puerto Rico: ‘We’ve Saved A Lot Of Lives’ : NPR a hurricane briefing Trump praised his Cabinet, compared the devastation to “a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina,” threw in an aside about how much Puerto Rico recovery was costing the U.S., and later was filmed throwing paper towels into a crowd as part of efforts to distribute supplies.

Trump surveys hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, meets San Juan mayor after feud | Fox News president pointed out that 16 people died in Puerto Rico because of Maria — a death count far lower than that of “a real catastrophe like Katrina” in 2005.

“Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all your people.”

Trump’s Puerto Rico Visit Is a Political Disaster – The Atlantic the aftermath of the storm, Trump has often appeared more interested in the political ramifications of the storm than on the human effects, focusing on approval of himself and the federal government (though he doesn’t really draw a distinction between the two). This was also true at Muñiz Air Force Base. In praising Governor Ricardo Rosselló, for example, Trump reached for the lens of partisan affiliation.

“He’s not even from my party and he started right at the beginning appreciating what we did,” Trump said. “Right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He was saying it like it was, and he gave us the highest rates.”


Final Thoughts

If you’re a supporter, you can crow about how the Trump administration’s response to Maria did not have nearly the drama or death toll of Katrina, and actually functioned as smoothly as anyone could reasonably expect the federal government to function. The devastation was worse than anyone could have predicted, and the military was required to come in and provide basic services that even FEMA could not handle. Rebuilding roads and entire power grids is an enormous project.

Even with Trump’s political feuds and petty tweets, it is difficult to seriously fault the job the government did under him. So the liberal press focused on the political feuds and petty tweets. If you’re a liberal, these things will matter more than throwing paper towels, or restoring basic services to the island.

If the exact same storm and government response had happened under Barack Obama, the same press would be praising the government’s efficiency and rock-ribbed persistence in the face of awful conditions.

A good trip or a disaster? It all depends on your perspective.

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