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Let's Revisit the Trump/Puerto Rico Debacle

Iesh Lal

Posted on September 13, 2018 13:15

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Donald Trump just denied the claim that 3,000 lives were lost in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, so let's revisit his administration's recovery efforts and reflect on his latest tweets.

Donald Trump truly surprises me with the way he can always surprise me. It's like a paradox or an oxymoron: I expect him to surprise me.

With his latest feat, he rejects the claim that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico due to the direct damage and aftermath from 2017's Hurricane Maria, and then blames the Democrats for inflating the number "to make him look bad." Perhaps he's a masochist? I mean, why else would anyone court such controversy? 

It's indisputable that Maria's aftermath was horrendous. In fact, it took almost an entire year to restore power across the entire island, and even after these repairs, the electricity system is not that much better than before Maria hit.

You can argue that part of the problem was Puerto Rico's infrastructure and how local authorities handled recovery efforts, but there's little to question when it comes to the Trump administration's response to the disaster.

For one, the administration vehemently denied or outright ignored the rising death toll, and stuck to lie that only a small number of deaths occurred. Trump tooted his own horn and continually praised himself following the storm — attacking local authorities in the process — and, evidently, continues to do so. And, of course, we all remember that embarrassing paper towel jump shot display, which for some reason, he strongly defended.

Then, there were all of the contracting issues that occurred thereafter, where government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars in support of relief efforts were given to small-time or newly formed companies who just couldn't handle the workload. 

Furthermore, consider the combination of all of this with his "America First" rhetoric. I remember hearing people joking about whether Trump even knew Puerto Rico was a US territory because it had a majority Hispanic population; well, not too long after hurricane season, there was enough evidence to view those jokes as reality.

For example, one POLITICO investigation discovered a "persistent double standard in the president’s handling of relief efforts" for Hurricane Harvey (Texas) and Hurricane Maria. I'd like to think that "America First" would apply to all Americans, but apparently for Trump, there are tiers to humanity. 

Now that we've revisited the original disaster, let's return to the present and observe Trump's ridiculous, two-pronged statement on the death toll. 

Suggesting that Democrats essentially "made up" a death toll that hovers around 3,000 to "get him" when we know there have been independent studies to measure this (with one Harvard study estimating around 5,000 deaths) is just incredibly insane and self-centered.

I'm going to cut to the chase: I think Trump is a criminal. He knows his number will be up if the Democrats take over. His desperate need to avoid a Democratic takeover has been on display since the Mueller investigation started. He has no qualms about disparaging the Democrats in any way possible to sustain his base, and this time, unfortunately, Puerto Rico just happened to be the closest prompt. 

Iesh Lal

Posted on September 13, 2018 13:15

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President Donald Trump is rejecting the widely accepted death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria.

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