A view of Buena Vista community from the Teodoro Moscoso bridge on the fourth day after the impact of Maria, a Category 5 hurricane that crossed the island, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, September 24, 2017. Shortly after the passing of the hurricane all communications collapsed all over the US Territory. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico, Politics and Perspective

Defending Donald Trump can be a dirty job, but then politics is a dirty game.  Much like with the Bog of Eternal Stench, so much as dipping a toe in it puts the stink on a person forever–which is why it amazes me that so many seem so willing to politicize everything.  It’s as if the chattering class just stepped whole and sweating from a desert highway Port-o-let in the middle of July, took a big whiff and decided that they’d like the rest of the country to smell the same way.  Even more inexplicable is why guys like me feel the need to comment on it, but that’s a story for another day.  Suffice it to say that somebody’s gotta do it–so pardon me while I splash some Old Spice on a bandana, wrap it around my face and take my turn with the chum bucket.  Like Quint told Sheriff Brody in Jaws, this isn’t going to be pleasant.

Regarding Puerto Rico…

President Trump has been getting a lot of blowback for his tweets about San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, which have–in true Trumpian style–basically called her an incompetent ingrate for her very public criticism of the aid and recovery efforts being coordinated by the federal government after Hurricane Maria.  Let me preface by saying that the blowback, as with many a Trump tweet, is not undeserved.  The president most certainly has a tendency to bring gasoline to a fire–but lest we forget, his enemies are often the pyromaniacs who strike the match in the first place.  And while it’s true, as my Resurgent bro Peter Heck suggests, that the crisis would be better handled with the kind of quiet, dignified leadership of a George W, Bush, Trump’s reactive tendencies serve at least one valuable purpose:  they disrupt the leftist narrative.

Intrigued?  Then follow me down the rabbit hole for a few moments and consider the following points:

  • Trump isn’t wrong about Mayor Yulín Cruz.  It’s no secret that the Democrats–and by extension, the media–have been itching to turn Hurricane Maria into Trump’s Katrina.  Never mind that most of what the media peddled as the federal government’s bungling of the Katrina response in New Orleans was a myth.  It was a very successful myth, which cemented George W.Bush as a callous man who–in the immortal blather of Kayne West–didn’t care about black people.  Since the federal response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma were largely successful, the media couldn’t make any political hay there.  But with Puerto Rico an unprecedented disaster, the Dems saw a chance and so they took it.  Kurt Schlicter summed it up neatly with this tweet:

In other words, this wasn’t political until Yulín Cruz made it political.  She fired the first shot.  The media, with their relentless coverage of Trump punching back, inadvertently made that crystal clear and undermined their own narrative.

As if to underscore the point, Yulín Cruz talked to CNN’s Anderson Cooper wearing–of all things–a shirt emblazoned with the words “HELP US, WE ARE DYING.”

Unless that’s the name of a punk band that opened up for the Ramones back in ’82, that shirt had to be custom made for the occasion–and, as Twitchy points out with its roundup of #Shirtgate, on an island where almost nobody has power it would be awfully hard to have that printed locally.  That can only mean that Yulín Cruz coordinated that particular stunt with partisans off-island in a deliberate attempt to make the administration look bad.  Nice to know that in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, she has her priorities straight.

Again, something that would have not gotten near the attention had Trump not raised a stink about it.

  • The aid is sitting on the docks in Puerto Rico.  Getting it out to the people–that’s another challenge.  From all accounts, the federal government–and this is probably the first time I’ve ever written this–has been Johnny-on-the-spot in getting its part of the job done.  The docks are filled with supplies.  Nuclear submarines are moored and using their reactors to generate electric power.  Trucks are standing by.  The problem?  Truck drivers aren’t showing up:

Speaking today exclusively and live from Puerto Rico, is Puerto Rican born and raised, Colonel Michael A. Valle (”Torch”), Commander, 101st Air and Space Operations Group, and Director of the Joint Air Component Coordination Element, 1st Air Force, responsible for Hurricane Maria relief efforts in the U.S. commonwealth with a population of more than 3 million. Since the ‘apocalyptic’ Cat 4 storm tore into the spine of Puerto Rico on September 20, Col. Valle has been both duty and blood bound to help.

Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”

“The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now,” says Col. Valle. Until power can be restored, generators are critical for hospitals and shelter facilities and more. But, and it’s a big but, they can’t get the fuel to run the generators.

They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.

“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government,” says Col. Valle.

Why are only 20% of drivers showing up?  I can think of a lot of good reasons.  The roads are heavily damaged.  Drivers can’t get to the ports.  Most people are staying close to their families.  And drivers may also fear being ambushed by thieves and killed for their cargo.  Then there’s this, which neither the Democrats nor Mayor Yulín Cruz care to mention:

Is any of that Trump’s fault?  No, but the media would prefer to ignore that and have people think Trump’s incompetence is to blame.  Again, something that could have turned into conventional wisdom had the narrative been allowed to take hold, as it did in Katrina.

Also left unmentioned is that in their quest to damage the Trump administration, the Dems and their willing servants in the media are besmirching the first responders, aid workers and military personnel who are all working around the clock trying to save lives–all for the purpose of scoring a few cheap political points.  Intemperate as Trump’s remarks were, his insults were directed at politicians, and nobody much cares about their feelings.

Bottom line, none of this is helpful—not to the people desperately in need of assistance, nor to those who are trying to provide it.  But if the Democrats want to point to this as a failure of Trump’s leadership, their cries would ring less hollow if they bothered to show some leadership of their own.

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Marc Giller

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