Hurricanes, Narcissism, and Cowardice

As Hurricane Florence barreled into the Carolinas and Americans along the East Coast braced for impact, the president’s mind appeared to be elsewhere. He appeared, as has become customary, to be mired in the realm of revisionist history.

With a patent and unnerving inability to conceptualize or overcome his own failures, a populace worried about a possible anemic federal response was treated to a duo of confidence-inspiring presidential tweets, which read as follows,

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

Contrary to the president’s bluster, FEMA admitted in its July after-action report that the federal response to Hurricane Maria was inadequate. Make no mistake, they underestimated the severity of the storm, failed to efficiently or effectively marshal resources, and never implemented a cogent mitigation strategy. Every level of the federal response was impaired, and the tragic result was approximately 3,000 innocent lives lost.

So the president can take issue with the George Washington University-provided figure of 2,975 excess fatalities if he foolishly chooses, but unfortunately, their figure is on the conservative side. A May 2018 study out of Harvard placed the death toll closer to 4,600.

Now let’s be very clear, this cataclysm didn’t simply decimate the inhabitants of some seemingly-wished far-flung and unattached isle. This happened on American soil, and it happened to American citizens. And we ought to be forever ashamed.

There’s no Democratic conspiracy, there’s only grim headstone-laden reality. And the president’s attempt to abscond from accepting responsibility by politicizing this abject tragedy is craven, childish, and delusional. It demonstrates the expansiveness of his penchant for lying, and leaves a vulnerable populace hoping that it’s an intentional face-saving mechanism, not an inherently-dooming impulse of an unwitting variety.

Mr. President, give the unrelenting narcissism a rest, and do your job. Try to grasp the grave responsibility that comes with sitting in the nation’s biggest chair, and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Try to realize that being president isn’t about the number of times your name appears on the front page of the newspaper, it’s about keeping as many people as possible out of the obituary section.


(Featured image “1886 Map of Puerto Rico“, by unknown author, image is within the public domain/cropped from original.)