Hurricane Harvey is a tragedy for thousands of people. The full human toll is yet to be determined as fatalities continue to rise. The economic cost will be staggering, but not equal to the cost of human suffering, loss of homes, worry and stress.
There is a long list of heroes. Stories of people risking their own lives to rescue others are overwhelming and gut-wrenching. Older persons being air-lifted out of rising waters, nursing home residents in wheelchairs being escorted to safety, children on house tops jumping to safety into the arms of firefighters below, and precious, water-drenched pets being re-united with their owners – all showed America at its best.
On the other hand, attempts to bend an apolitical event to a preferred political narrative were desperate and despicable. The Twitter account for the Charitable Humans organization unleashed unbelievably insensitive remarks when it said: “Texas has been bitten by Karma, but they still have a huge debt to the bank of Karma. I just can’t bring myself to even consider providing aid to any red state, let them clean up their own mess.” This vindictive vitriol, prompted by Donald Trump carrying Texas and being elected president, is way beyond over-the-top – certainly America at its worst. But, thank God, most Americans will remember the acts of kindness, sympathy, and courage far longer than this diarrhea of language. Indeed, the floodwaters of Texas wash away the nonsense and reveal the decency of the American people.
So far, Trump and his administration are getting praise for effective handling of the crisis. Federal, state, and local governments appear mostly coordinated and in sync on their roles and responsibilities. Trump himself has displayed a calm, reassuring response. His cadre of experienced and successful military and business professionals has greatly contributed expertise to handle this monumental disaster. Trump’s vast list of Twitter followers has gained both useful information and assurance that the White House is actively monitoring events. For example, last week on Tuesday, Trump re-tweeted an urgent alert from Brazoria County saying that a levee at Columbia Lakes had been breached and residents needed to get out immediately.
Harvey could be a turning point in the Trump presidency. Harvey is giving Trump a chance to show his ability as crisis-manager-in-chief. So far so good. Remember that Trump has run several large construction and renovation projects. With the havoc that Harvey has wreaked, reconstruction will remain the focal point of our national attention for a significant period of time, and Trump should be able to shine in this role as well or better than anybody who has been president.
The crisis that Harvey has created is tailor-made for a businessman like Trump to handle. His political opponents sense Trump’s handling of Harvey could be a turning point in his presidency to their detriment. The Democratic and Republican Never Trumpers are so hard up, not finding anything to substantively attack Trump for his handling of Harvey, that they resorted to criticizing Melania Trump’s high heel shoes that she only wore getting onto a plane. They also said that he didn’t show enough empathy when he visited Texas. What a hollow criticism! As a patient would value the competence of a brain surgeon to remove a tumor more than his/her friendliness, so would people facing losing their homes and possibly their lives value the competence of their president to rescue and restore them more than his ability to commiserate with them. The left just doesn’t get it about Trump.
Acknowledgement is given to articles by Jonah Goldberg (NY Post), Teri Troy (Wall Street Journal), and Roger Simon (PJ Media) for information in my column.