For starters, who let the President tell the Puerto Ricans gathered for his handouts that they no longer needed free flashlights? They were the small, cheap kind, better for finding socks under the bed than people and pets under debris, but to show they worked, anyway, Trump played with one for the oblivious crowd. Meanwhile, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was re-tweeting Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s tweet that he was working hard to get the power back on in the Island. At least batteries were included.
Even worse, Trump questioned a woman about what she was going to do with the water purification kit he just handed her and, when told, incredulously exclaimed, “And you’d drink that?” It’s an understandable question. Trump owns Trump Natural Spring Water, also known as Trump Ice, so he knows good water when he drinks it. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the military load up a dozen C-130s with Trump Water and Ice and drop the pallets from the air right after the storm, when people stood in line for hours to get even a small supply of these necessities. It was a brilliantly missed opportunity for good-will and healthy promotion.
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Before the giveaways, Trump praised the Governor of the Island for praising him, and would self-awarded himself an “A+,” for the relief effort, however belated. It’s not all joy in Mudville, though, because, the General Trump appointed to head the relief effort is already complaining that he still doesn’t have enough troops to do a proper job. The President might consider expanding the Peace Corps in Puerto Rico since helping people build and rebuild lives is in its mission. The move would be practical and look good, too.
Another gaffe came when Trump went off and complained about the budget hole Puerto Rico will cause. What this means is tax cuts for the rich will be smaller, or the great border wall will be lower, or shorter, or not as beautiful as planned. Perhaps, it’s time someone thinks long-term and advances Puerto Rico as a laboratory for green power. It’s rare to get a chance to start from scratch and it could be a proving ground for future mainland ventures.
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Trump hammers on Puerto Rico’s poverty the way a Grandfather rails when poor relatives show up for Christmas dinner, suspicious they just want free grub and expensive gifts. One of his Goldman Sachs former executives might tell Trump how predatory lenders took advantage of the Island for the shameful necessity of making even primitive infrastructure developments years ago. That’s the root cause of the money problem and Congress needs to act on it, in concert with the President, because if nothing’s done Puerto Rico will always be underwater.