Donald Trump is the ultimate troll. He attempts to take credit for anything and everything, and when that winds up coming back to bite him in the form of blame instead, he puts on a “poor me” act, as though it’s everyone else who’s making everything about him.
The most recent, most disgusting example (that I can call to mind right now, anyway—he’s said a lot of terrible stuff, but this one seems like a strong contender for the worst) is his blatant lie this morning that a new, much higher hurricane Maria death toll for Puerto Rico is a Democrat plot against him.
No, I’m not making that up or exaggerating. He tweeted this morning, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000 … This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
There are many things wrong with this, like his incredibly callous reaction to elderly people who may have died because they couldn’t get the care they needed in the wake of the storm, but the truly incredible thing is how quickly he can go from trying to take credit for something to complaining about the people pointing out that he’s wrong to do so.
Already, I’ve seen Trump fans take up his familiar stance that Puerto Rico’s own government is to blame for problems with their electrical grid and poor hurricane response, and that it’s unfair to lay the blame on Trump personally. Leaving aside the “buck stops literally anywhere else” attitude that Trump’s fans are apparently willing to apply to him, none of that matters.
It’s likely that roughly 3,000 Americans died as a result of a natural disaster in Puerto Rico (exact totals are still forthcoming, but that’s currently the best estimate), and whether or not it’s Donald Trump’s fault personally is not really the main issue in that story. Continuing to help recovery efforts and making sure this never happens again are far more important. (Although some accountability would be nice.)
That’s why it’s so terrible that he keeps focusing on it, because it’s largely a result of the way he has tried to frame the events from the beginning. Early on, he began boasting about the relatively low death toll, and even at that time, anyone with any clue how these things works knew that the total he was touting was likely to go up, and making his boasting incredibly cynical and gross.
Reports of ongoing threats to the lives and health of the people of Puerto Rico were, and have been, right there for anyone to read, and it was Trump himself who chose to ignore them and publicly try to claim credit for the hurricane response. The only person surprised by these numbers is Trump (along with those who believe everything he says).
He’s continued to try to claim that credit, explicitly complaining that the disaster relief work in Puerto Rico went “unappreciated” and that it was an “unsung success.” His desire to dig his heels in and spend more of his time focusing on who’s getting credit for what, rather than is a terrible quality in a person, let alone a leader.
That’s why, as another hurricane approaches, everyone seems to be blaming Trump himself for the response to Maria. He asked for the credit, and he’s getting it. If he doesn’t like that the “credit” is actually negative, he has no one to blame but himself, so please, spare us all from the idea that he’s the one being unfairly targeted here.
(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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