It was a near certainty that our president’s visit to hurricane-battered Puerto Rico would be unhelpful and unwanted, particularly after he feuded with San Juan’s exhausted mayor and accused the U.S. territory, where millions still lack running water, of not pulling its weight.
And indeed, the president’s behavior upon landing was spectacularly bad! You know those dreams where you have some big responsibility to uphold but you can’t think or speak or move like a human being? Wouldn’t it be so weird for that to be your full-time reality?
Here are some things that Trump said to reporters upon arriving in Puerto Rico:
He praised Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the Defense Department’s newly-instated liaison with FEMA, as a general who does not “play games.”
I said, give me a general; I dont want to have any — I don’t want to have a general that plays games. And you’ve done a fantastic job.
He gave out several high-letter grades to his administration.
Where’s Brock? Brock — Brock Long has been through a lot. We gave him an A-plus in Texas.
And, by the way, Louisiana—we dont say it often—but Louisiana got hit very hard also, and they’ve been fantastic. But then he came to Florida, and that we gave him another A-plus.
And, Governor, I just want to tell you that, right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He didn’t play it at all. He was saying it like it was, and he was giving us the highest grades.
He compared Maria to Hurricane Katrina, a “real catastrophe”:
If you look at the—every death is a horror. But if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering—nobody has ever seen anything like this. What is your death count, as of this moment—17?
He scolded Puerto Rico for getting hit with an expensive hurricane.
Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.
He emphasized, again, how lucky Puerto Rico’s American citizens are to be receiving support from their government.
So I appreciate your support and I know you appreciate our support, because our country has really gone all out to help. And it’s not only dangerous, it’s expensive, it’s everything. But I consider it a great honor, maybe because I know so many people from Puerto Rico that are such great people—I come from New York. But we’ve gone all out and I consider that, again, a great honor.
Here are some things that happened during a walking tour in the Guaynabo municipality:
Trump comforted local citizens.
Trump then moved to the next family and could be heard saying “the concrete holds up but the wood doesn’t,” to a man with a US army hat.
Trump asked the family Did you have fear the second floor was going to go?
“Thank you for being here, it’s so good to see you,” the man said in Spanish.
He also passed out much-needed supplies.
In a surreal scene, Trump handed some packages of “Arroz Rico” brand bags of rice to members of the crowd. Then in his best Stephen Curry impersonation, Trump held up his arm and softly shot paper towels into the crowd, which they enjoyed.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello also said on Tuesday that the federal government has denied Puerto Rico’s request to temporarily lift some food stamp restrictions so citizens can buy hot meals.
But at least a few people have paper towels.