The eighth month of the Donald J. Trump administration will likely end the way the previous seven have—in social-media-induced chaos—as the Commander in Chief began Saturday by disparaging hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico via his personal Twitter account. If you were outraged at George W. Bush dropping, “Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job” while surveying the damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, consider Trump’s tweets about Hurricane Maria relief the real-life “Hold my beer” of incompetent one-upsmanship.
The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
...Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
...want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the president tweeted Saturday morning. “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has been critical of Trump and the response to provide aid. Cruz notably appeared on CNN with a shirt that read, “Help us we are dying” Friday.
“This is a message for President Trump: Thank you for calling San Juan yesterday and listening for our mayday call,” Cruz told CNN. “There are 77 other towns that are waiting anxiously and will be very grateful to you and to the American people if you continue to step up to the moral imperative that you have taken on all over the world to help those in need. So help us.”
As Trump touted the “fantastic job” being done, U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke appeared to walk back comments about the Hurricane Maria relief being a “good news story” and admitted conditions in Puerto Rico were “not satisfactory.”
Some nine days after Hurricane Maria left the overwhelming majority of Puerto Rico without electricity, Trump hesitated before waiving the Jones Act—a nearly century-old statute requiring goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported by U.S. vessels (and operated predominantly by Americans). Before bending to immense public pressure, Trump openly admitted that business interests came before human lives, saying that "[W]e have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted."
Aside from the optics of bringing victim-blaming and partisan politics into what should be a humanitarian issue, there’s the fact that Trump almost certainly sent Saturday’s tweets from a golf course.
I will be going to Puerto Rico on Tuesday with Melania. Will hopefully be able to stop at the U.S. Virgin Islands (people working hard).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
And Trump hasn’t visited Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands yet, despite the territories being rocked by two Category 5 storms in Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
Fellow Twitter users who saw Trump’s response weren’t exactly thrilled.
ASSHOLE.— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) September 30, 2017
She has been working 24/7.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
You have been GOLFING.
You're going straight to hell.
Fastest golf cart you ever took. https://t.co/5hOY23MBvQ
Trump (always an asshole) seems way more an asshole when he's at one of his golf courses.— h. jon benjamin (@HJBenjamin) September 30, 2017
The @GOP is enabling Trump’s antics as he taunts Puerto Rican leaders, insults foreign leaders, and tweets instead of governs.— deray mckesson (@deray) September 30, 2017
Nothing says, “Make America Great Again” like 18 holes of taxpayer-funded golf while Puerto Rico struggles with half of its inhabitants finding suitable drinking water and only a reported 36 of 69 hospitals open.