President Trump leveled a fresh attack Wednesday against San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as he continued to defend his administration’s response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year and asserted readiness for the one now barreling toward the Carolinas.
In a morning tweet, Trump called Cruz “totally incompetent.” She was the local official most vocal about the need for a stronger federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where researchers have estimated that nearly 3,000 additional deaths occurred after the storm.

This is how he reacts when the death toll creeps up to 9-11 casualty totals:

I don’t know who was handing out the grades, but allowing nearly 3,000 Americans to die and tens of thousands to go without power for months is a failure in any reasonable person’s mind. His casual attitude about the deaths of thousands cannot be heartening to people fleeing Hurricane Florence.

The president’s indifference to almost 3,000 deaths has all the components of a Trump self-made catastrophe:

  1. Anyone who criticizes him will draw his venom and attention away from the calamity. His narcissism leads to casting himself as the biggest victim.
  2. The victims are not white and/or many do not speak English.
  3. Trump considers the problem “solved” because if he says it’s solved and/or he has gone for a photo op. Didn’t he throw paper towels to these people? What more do they expect?  This is why his statements are so dramatically at odds with reality.
  4. Unless reading from someone else’s script, Trump can’t express empathy because he feels no empathy for others. That’s why he boasts about the size of storms. He’s got to be #1 in everything — even the size of the disasters. (His storms were bigger than President Barack Obama’s storms!) Presumably, Trump thinks the bigger the storm, the more “credit” he’ll get for addressing it. The notion that the bigger the storm, the greater the suffering never seems to concern him.
  5. The errors are the result of systemic mismanagement. With no clear lines of communication, no one willing to tell the president “no,” no curious or policy-prepared chief executive and no one ever willing to admit error, you get a string of epic policy flubs — the initial Muslim ban, the “zero-tolerance” debacle and now, possibly, misrouting funds from a real problem (hurricanes) to a political bugaboo (illegal immigration). The Post reports: “The Trump administration appears to have diverted nearly $10 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency at the forefront of the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that led to the separation of hundreds of children, some as young as 18 months old, from their parents.”
  6. There is no four-dimensional chess going on here. The continual search for meaning or strategy behind his self-absorbed, bigoted actions and rhetoric is misguided. Trump is not that clever nor farsighted. He reacts in the moment, invariably to protect his own frail ego. His response is or should be an embarrassment to any competent adviser operating in good faith.

While Trump is bragging, Puerto Ricans are suffering, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released today:

• Two-thirds say the storm caused major or minor damage to their homes, and most of them say the structures have not been restored to their original condition.
• Ninety-three percent say their areas need more resources to repair roads and highways.
• Fifty percent say people in their households could not get enough water to drink, and 53 percent say they are still worried about the quality of water in their homes.
• More than 4 in 10 Puerto Ricans say their power was not restored until January or later — four months after the storm — and while nearly all residents now have access to working grid power, outages are common. More than 3 in 4 say they lost power for at least one hour in the previous month.

Not surprisingly, they give Trump lousy ratings for his effort (80 percent say he did a fair or poor job compared to 15 percent who say he did a good or excellent job). The governor who spent time slobbering praise over Trump received bad marks as well (67 percent fair or poor), as did the federal government (58 percent fair or poor).

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) blasted the administration in a series of tweets:

Trump, of course, learns nothing from these disasters — either the actual events or his shoddy responses. Why should he? In his own mind, he’s never wrong.

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