Politics

Sometimes Trump Puts the 'Bully' in Bully Pulpit

The president once again took to Twitter to punch down at one of his critics — a critic in dire need.

Nate Jackson · Oct. 2, 2017

Puerto Rico took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria when the Category 4 storm blew through on Sept. 20. Nearly two weeks later, most of the island’s three million citizens are still without power, water or reliable communication.

The small U.S. territory was underwater in debt and saddled with poor infrastructure after decades of Democrat mismanagement before the hurricane, and the storm only made matters worse. The logistical challenges of bringing aid are formidable, and Carmen Yulín Cruz, Democrat mayor of San Juan, reached her limit. On Friday, she lashed out at Donald Trump’s administration, saying, “We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency, and the bureaucracy.” If logistics aren’t solved, she warned, “What we are going to see is something close to a genocide.” She had plenty of other strong words criticizing Trump’s response, particularly an administration official’s assertion that federal aid to the island has been “a good news story.”

Her dismay is certainly understandable, though we haven’t seen evidence to support her charges. The undertaking is massive, and the federal government is responding. In fact, Trump sent 5,000 National Guard troops to the island before the storm, and thousands more since, all working to help people and distribute necessary items. Restoring basic utilities to the entire island isn’t going to happen overnight, no matter how flawless the federal response. Nevertheless, Democrats politicized the storm from the beginning — whether it was climate change or “more people voting Democrat in Florida” as a result — and the Leftmedia is, of course, happy to portray this as “Trump’s Hurricane Katrina.”

Unfortunately, that constant fake news refrain probably goaded Trump to respond with a bit more weight than was appropriate. As is his unfortunate habit, Trump couldn’t resist taking to Twitter to hit back twice as hard. “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he tweeted. “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They … want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

As political analyst Dan McLaughlin argues, “There’s a time and a place for partisan combat, and a tone that the president ought to set even when others are throwing brickbats. People want the man in charge to seem like he’s in charge and focused on helping them, not on his public image or personal feuds.” Or in our parlance, “Don’t swap spit with a jackass.”

Indeed, it certainly seems as though he’s more concerned with his public image and personal feuds when he punches down on Twitter. Furthermore, he mixes very serious tweets — like offering condolences to those in Las Vegas — with petulant and sophomoric spats, which undermines his serious statements and his overall communication. This is the core of the problem with his social media use.

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