There’s no one more qualified to give President Trump advice on how he should be dealing with the massive calamity caused by Hurrican Maria in Puerto Rico than Retired Lt. General Russel Honoré. General Honoré is one of the few people with direct experience in responding to exactly this kind of disaster, having overseen the turnaround in the U.S. military response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans twelve years ago after the government’s initial response was resoundly criticized as inadequate.
Appearing on CNN, General Honoré responded to a question about Trump’s attacks on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz with a clear contrast between the two political leaders. “The mayor’s living on a cot, and I hope the president has a good day at golf,” he quipped, highlighting yet another example of the clueless sense of privelege that underlies all of Trump’s blathering about the situation.
General Honoré also had some practical advice for the president to improve the government’s response:
“[Trump should] order the NORTHCOM commander to be on scene. She has the order to give Gen. Buchanan anything he needs, and that’s what’s needed right now. We need more boots on the ground to help kick-start the system.”
As the president luxuriates at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues, with Lt. General Jeff Buchanan, the military official in charge of the U.S. response to the crisis in Puerto Rico, acknowledging that the number of troops and equipment dedicated to the Puerto Rico recovery efforts were currently woefully insufficient.
General Honoré had warned earlier this week in an interview with Bloomberg that the Trump administration’s response to the Maria crisis in Puerto Rico was giving him a bad case of deja vu.
“It’s kind of like Katrina: We got it. We got it. Oh, s–t, send in the cavalry,” Honore said on Wednesday. “This is a hit on White House decision making.”
He said that personnel and equipment should have been shipped to the island well in advance of the catastrophe and the military given greater authority much sooner.
Instead of taking responsibility for the feeble federal response, Trump, as ususual, blamed someone else, in this case the victims of the disaster themselves, the people of Puerto Rico. In a typically racist rant, Trump said of the victimized US citizens: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
Easy to say from your golf cart, but perhaps the perspective is somewhat different when you are sleeping on a soggy cot.