After Puerto Rico, Trump's Indifference To Suffering Should Come As No Surprise

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William James

President Trump made clear that he was completely indifferent to suffering after Puerto Rico was devastated.

Washington Post columnist Max Boot noted last week that President Donald Trump seems wholly unable to confront crises that he himself did not create — and for which he cannot escape the fallout.

From the “caravans” bringing Central American refugees to America’s border to Iran violating the nuclear accord to “worst-ever” trade agreements, Trump has offered over-the-top responses to each crisis he has fabricated.

But prior to the coronavirus outbreak, there was one crisis that Trump did not create and therefore could not resolve in his typical fashion — and it gives some insight into how the president would respond to the current public health crisis, Boot wrote.

Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico in 2017, and the Trump administration’s response to the disaster was “horribly botched,” Boot noted. “Aid was delayed and power was out for months, causing some 3,000 deaths. Trump’s response was to deny the deaths, attack the mayor of San Juan, accuse Puerto Ricans of being lazy and toss paper towels at hurricane survivors as if they were seals getting fish from a trainer.”

But that crisis took place far from the mainland, and though his response was “pathetic and shameful,” Boot said, its location spared Trump much political fallout.

Americans should expect no less from the president as his administration confronts the coronavirus outbreak. Trump has shown from the beginning that politics matter more than public health, as he downplayed the virus’s seriousness for weeks and publicly worried about case numbers increasing.

When he visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last week, Trump showed up wearing a red campaign hat and spent much time working to protect his image.

“He expressed his desire to keep infected passengers imprisoned on a cruise ship off California because if they land, ‘our numbers are going to go up,’” Boot noted, and lavished praise upon himself.

“Every one of these doctors said, how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability,” Trump said in front of reporters.

He also referred to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as “a snake” — even as Inslee’s state has been hard hit by the coronavirus, and the people affected are Americans.

But this should come as no surprise. After Puerto Rico, it was clear that Trump is indifferent to human suffering — even if those humans are Americans.

Read the full op-ed.


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