This was written just after Trump's tweets took us by firestorm - no, not the North Korea firestorm tweets. Just took a while to get posted.
My head has been spinning for the past few weeks - more so than usual since January. Puerto Rico is reeling from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island. What's left of the trees we see in news footage reminds me of the truffula trees from the Dr. Seuss story, The Lorax, only stripped of all leaves. At least the truffula had brightly colored, though small, "leaf" canopies. There are lines hundreds of cars long waiting for gas. People spend all day in lines for food and water. People have died for simple lack of fuel for generators to keep their life support systems going. And while it may be that their fates would not ultimately have been different in the absence of the hurricane, it is frankly unconscionable to consider this - or anything that has been happening in Puerto Rico so far - as a "good news" story. At some point I certainly hope it is, but not yet.
It seems inevitable, apparently, that the ability of the U.S. Government to respond to a disaster or other emergency becomes politicized; it is seen as a measure of how well an Administration functions, of how well a President is able to fulfill his (or her) responsibilities. Political supporters use it to say, "See, he's a good President." Political opponents use it to continue making the case that "their candidate" would have been better; that an Administration - and by extension, the President - is inept. Both are acceptable within the bounds of polite discourse about an Administration; some emergencies are better handled than others and it behooves us to know why. The main reason for contrasting and comparing the government's emergency responses is not about political kudos for or criticism of any single President or Administration. Rather, it is about improving government systems and processes for the next emergency because there will surely be one - or more.
So, what are we to think when our President ridicules the Mayor of San Juan for her pleas for help? When he tells the world that Puerto Ricans are essentially cry-babies; as a community they should be able to figure this all out, without help from anyone else? Trump is simply a small man. Small in heart, small in thought, small in empathy.
What would provoke anyone to tweet something like Trump did about the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, after she said the U.S. response wasn't enough and begged for help from whoever might be listening? Very few people, if anyone, would expose themselves as so small-minded, self-centered, and downright mean in public, let alone on the world stage. Then again, Trump has consistently shown himself to be just that. A man of no stature. A man with no leadership skills nor interest in leadership. A small man. Indeed, a little small man.
There is everything wrong with his response. First, it is simply mean-spirited. It is a personal attack on the mayor rather than attempting to address the disaster or relief efforts. It certainly offers no solace or comfort to those whose lives have been turned upside-down. Nor does it offer reassurance that help is on its way, regardless of how logistically challenging that may be, given that Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by "big water" and all. His is a simple world apparently; he does not understand why Ms. Cruz might be critical after having been "complimentary". Except, of course, because the Democrats are conspiring with the mayor on how best to gig Trump. Like Ms. Cruz has politics on her mind in the wake of the hurricane.
Trump's tweets say much more about him than about Ms. Cruz, the tragedy in Puerto Rico, or the relief effort. And like him, they are void of substance. Trump is not presidential, he simply occupies the office of president. And in that, he is a little small man.