Editor’s Note: Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Raul Reyes: Trump tweets on weekend about NFL, not Puerto Rico, until noting its "billions of dollars owed to Wall Street"
Reyes: His callousness about the American commonwealth, and delusion about Texas, Florida "great" recovery are shameful
After spending the weekend feuding with football players and trashing Sen. John McCain, on Monday night President Donald Trump turned his attention to the devastation still faced by several regions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he tweeted to his 39 million followers.
Just what is wrong with the President’s tweets about these areas struggling through a tremendous recovery?
Let’s begin with Puerto Rico, an island of 3.4 million American citizens (more than many states) that has been plunged into darkness for the foreseeable future. But it wasn’t until Tuesday, six days after Maria hit Puerto Rico, that Trump made a substantive late-to-the-disaster statement during a press conference with the Spanish foreign minister at the White House.
“All available resources, including the military, are being marshaled to save lives,” he said. And “we have been really treated very, very nicely by the governor and everyone else.” He allowed that the people of Puerto Rico “are important to all of us.”
That would have been more convincing had Trump to that point not been essentially silent about the chaos there, though he did also note in a tweet Monday: “its old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape was devastated.”
Taken with his, and his vice president’s, failure to visit the island thus far (Trump announced Tuesday that he would go next week – “some people say, I read it this morning, it’s literally destroyed”) this seems to be an attempt to deflect accountability away from his administration’s role in the recovery effort. As of Monday, according to an article in New York magazine, party leaders “were waiting for a formal disaster request from the Trump administration.”
But Trump tweeted on: “Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”