Keep in mind that nothing Donald Trump does is surprising anymore. He has lost the power to shock, even as he continues to appall. And yet, his early Saturday morning tweetstorm attacking the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, carved out a new low even for him.
It was, of course, predictable that criticism of the Trump administration’s pitifully inadequate response to Hurricane Maria by a woman – and a brown woman at that – would trigger our Joffrey Baratheon into a rage. Trump lacks impulse control on a good day, but can hardly contain himself when dressed down by a woman. Throw in his natural instincts on race, and you have the perfect Breitbart grievance cocktail. Perhaps Trump can offer it in a dirty glass at one of his tacky hotel bars.
Trump implied that the mayor, who just one day ago was on television literally pleading for aid for her stricken island, warning that without help, the story of Puerto Rico could be one of genocide, only stopped praising him because the Democratic Party told her to.
Fresh off his war with black professional athletes, in which he tried to impugn their patriotism and wrapped his repugnant self in the flag (five Vietnam deferments not withstanding) he tried to twist the San Juan mayor’s urgent pleas into an attack on the military and first responders. He then threw in a typically Trumpian attack on the media, implying that CNN and NBC too are attacking first responders and soldiers by criticizing Donald Trump. All that was missing was a grandiloquent statement that He Is The State, and the State Is Him, for an exquisite monarchical twist.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s attacks on Yulin Cruz echoed those of his most vile supporters from the white nationalist fever swamps, including Pizzagate’s Mike Cernovich, who the night before took to Twitter to denounce Yulín Cruz as “garbage” and a “murderer.” Trump’s attacks, dredging up trite racial stereotypes about supposed government dependency, echoed theirs, because at the end of the day, Donald Trump is them. Clearly, he so readily channels their rage and bigotry because he identifies with it.
It is obvious by now that Donald Trump will go down in history as our worst modern president. His response to Maria – it took more than a week to belatedly send the U.S.S. Comfort and a three-star general to lead the response – and his ready dismissal of its victims eclipses even George W. Bush’s meandering response to Katrina.
Trump, it will be said by many, goes beyond not caring when it comes to brown and black Americans—and don’t forget, Puerto Rico is about 13 percent black—bleeding quickly over to contempt.
It’s clearly lost on him that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, seized by the United States and therefore subject to it, and deserving of all of the rights of citizenship including protection from their federal government. The same is true of residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, struck by Maria and another hurricane, Irma. Citizens of these islands already suffer the indignity of less than full political representation – they can vote for president in Orlando, but not in San Juan – and the crippling economic burdens of the Jones Act, which make everything on Puerto Rico more expensive than on the mainland. Their debt crisis is American made, and wasn’t helped by the lumbering presence of a certain failed casino operator who promised to revive a sputtering golf course in 2008 that wound up instead in a $32 million bankruptcy paid for by Puerto Rican taxpayers.
Trump, in his morning tweetstorm—which Broadway mogul Lin Manuel Miranda correctly stated was tweeted from one of his golf courses, adding that Trump is destined to take a long golf cart ride to Hell—stated that he and Melania will soon grace Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with their presence. (Here’s hoping Melania remembers to pack sneakers.)
They needn’t bother. It’s hard to imagine the people of Puerto Rico having the slightest interest in a visit to the colony from the itinerant American king.