As government officials, law enforcement and residents of Houston, Texas face the dangers of another hurricane season – while they are still struggling to recover from the category 4 hurricane and floods last year which left the city devastated – there is mounting anger over insensitive and ignorant remarks President Trump made on June 6 at a FEMA briefing to discuss preparations for this year’s inevitable natural disasters.
With his wife making a rare appearance at his side, the Vice President on his left and several cabinet secretaries in front of him, and FEMA employees nationwide listening in, Trump went off script to single out the U.S. Coast Guard for praise because they rescued, he said “16,000 people” during that titanic storm, ‘many of them in Texas.”
“People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane,” said Trump, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “That didn’t work out too well. That didn’t work out too well.”
Trump’s stunning stupidity immediately brought bafflement from first responders about his boating claim.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said the boats were out to rescue fellow citizens and their pets who were in danger of death and drowning as 52 inches of rain fell, not for pleasure.
“I didn’t see anyone taking the approach that would reflect his comments,” said Gonzalez.
With Houston struggling to get federal resources to rebuilt and create barriers to stop future floods from destroying large parts of the gulf coast city again, Trump’s comments have hit a nerve and the anger over his callous stupidity has grown day by day.
“Unfortunately,” the Houston Chronicle wrote in an editorial yesterday, “we’ve grown accustomed to bizarre Trumpian bloviations. (No, Mr. President, Canada did not burn down the White House.)”
“The ad hoc remarks are often best ignored,” continued one of the leading news outlets in the very red state. “U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz did just that, discretion being the better part of Republican valor in these peculiar times.”
“And yet the president’s Hurricane Harvey inanity is too serious for Houstonians to let slide,” added the newspaper.
In the face of impending mortal danger, the Chronicle editorial writers mocked Trump, “Like Civil War-era Washingtonians picnicking near the First Battle of Bull Run, we were irresponsible gawkers, perhaps even deserving of the consequences of our own making.”
What really happened, the Chronicle added, is reflected by what Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said in response to Trump: “The people who took their boats into the water during Harvey were not storm-watchers. They were heroes who went toward danger to rescue friends, neighbors, strangers. Texans helping Texans in a time of desperate need.”
Trump’s remarks are dangerous, said the Chronicle, because, “A region still recovering from catastrophic flooding doesn’t need its plight minimized or ridiculed. It needs help.”
“If the man in charge is abysmally ignorant about what happened in the wake of a Category 4 storm and the epic deluge that followed,” added the Chronicle, “who’s to say that government agencies — Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Flood Insurance Program, among others — will understand the urgency of Houston’s needs?”
“The people of Puerto Rico,” the newspaper added, “those who survived a hurricane that killed thousands, know something of the importance of political leadership. They remember a president who responded to biblical devastation by tossing rolls of paper towels at them. They know how arrogance and ineptitude at the top can magnify a dire situation.”
“Mr. President, those Texans in rescue boats weren’t out looking for trouble. They were looking for help. A year later, the Houston region is still looking.”
“Show some leadership. Make us your priority, not your punchline.”
“Anyone who can make sense of such absurdity,” concludes the Chronicle “is a better Trump exegete than we.”
The Greek word “exegete” refers to someone who can interpret what something usually refers to a text from the Bible, which may be appropriate here because what happened to Houston – and Puerto Rico – took on the proportions of an epic Biblical tragedy, a flood even Noah could understand.
Unfortunately, it was not one Trump could understand because what he did at the time and what he has now said shows a complete misunderstanding of the scope of the problem and his own coarseness and a lack of sensitivity that borders on villainous.
It is frightening to think we are entering another season of hurricanes and a winter in the era of global climate crisis with a president who is so delusional, so wrong and so inept at the controls of government – all compounded by his insufferable egotism
His stupidity is putting lives in danger every single day.
When even those in the red state of Texas notice, it is time to post-hurricane warnings because the big blow that endangers us most is coming from the White House.