To hear President Donald Trump tell it, the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico are going swimmingly – thanks, in large part, to how well he is handling everything.
“Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló just stated: ‘The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered,’” Trump tweeted Friday morning.
On Thursday night, Trump tweeted this: “Puerto Rico is devastated. Phone system, electric grid many roads, gone. FEMA and First Responders are amazing. Governor said ‘great job!’”
Earlier Thursday, Trump scolded the press for its coverage of the story: “FEMA & First Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered. Docks & electric grid dead. Locals trying really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!”
The facts on the ground in Puerto Rico tell a very different story. Huge swaths of the country still don’t have power. Drinking water is running low. So is food. The country’s credit card system remains down. A flash flood watch is in effect for the weekend.
As San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said on “New Day” Friday: “This is not a good news story. This is a people are dying story.” (She was responding to an incredibly tone-deaf comment by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke on Thursday afternoon.)
The simple fact is that Trump was caught flat-footed on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Puerto Rico, distracted by both a fight he picked with pro-athletes over the National Anthem and the Alabama Senate race where his preferred candidate was resoundingly defeated on Tuesday.
That Trump, in the face of all facts to the contrary, continues to insist that things in Puerto Rico are coming around and that his administration’s response to the hurricane has been pitch perfect is broadly consistent with the President’s tendency to create an alternate reality when the fact-based one doesn’t look so good for him.
Witness Trump’s bizarre attempt this week to argue that his side actually does have the votes needed to pass legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and that the only reason it hasn’t passed yet is because a GOP senator is in the hospital.