President Trump’s visit to flooded parts of southern Texas went off without a hitch yet he has been besieged with scathing attacks by rabid left-wingers and their media allies desperate to find fault with him and treat his every action as a crazed assault on the time-honored political norms of the country.
Despite what you may have seen on CNN or heard on NPR, from this writer’s perch, Trump did more or less everything right. The trip, which didn’t take Trump into devastated Houston proper, was ordinary and comforting. In a word it was presidential. The president wasn’t there to rescue babies or house pets from flood zones – he was there to reassure the victims of Hurricane Harvey and let the nation know that the dire situation there was being handled properly, which, apparently, it is. Federal aid is flowing to the region, he said.
The visit to stricken areas was what one political junky called Trump’s first “natural disaster test.” He passed.
Before boarding Air Force One, the president hailed the "incredible" spirit of the people of Texas. "Things are being handled really well, the spirit is incredible," he said at the White House. "It's a historic amount of water, never been anything like it. The people are handling it amazingly well."
Trump spoke an undeniable truth when he added that "tragic times such as these bring out the best in America's character."
In recent days Trump’s Twitter feed has been filled with the usual, otherwise unremarkable expressions of hope and optimism that Americans have come to expect from their president in times of crisis.
“First responders have been doing heroic work. Their courage & devotion has saved countless lives – they represent the very best of America,” read one tweet.
“Texas & Louisiana: We are w[ith] you today, we are w[ith] you tomorrow, & we will be w[ith] you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, & REBUILD!” read another.
“After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!” read another tweet.
Another read, “I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety.”
“Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground,” read a tweet.
This is what a president in modern times is expected to do. He is supposed to comfort the afflicted, promise things will get better, and reassure a worried populace.
But no matter what Trump did or didn’t do in coastal Texas, the media would have found an excuse to whine about him. Shouting obnoxiously and exploding with haughty indignation has worked for these people ever since the president declared his candidacy at Trump Tower. Trump’s presidency is an abomination to these people and his every action an impeachable offense.
So naturally, on cue the media set to bitching and moaning about Trump supposedly not acting presidential and being out of his depth.
These journalists are willing to tolerate a Republican president if they have to, but they won’t put up with one who is bold, assertive, and who dares to defend himself and relentlessly promotes his agenda. But when Obama did the same, even at times and in circumstances when it made reasonable people wince, he was given a pass.
Take the Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson, for example. “Even in visiting hurricane-ravaged Texas, Trump keeps the focus on himself,” shrieked her biased, subjective headline.
“With his wife at his side, he sounded as if he were addressing a political rally instead of a state struggling to start to recover – but it was a tone that matched the screaming crowd,” she wrote.
Trump is a showman. That’s what he does and that’s what helped him vanquish umpteen challengers for the GOP nod and Democrat Hillary Clinton, something just about nobody thought he could pull off.
Johnson’s sentence could have been used to describe at least every second or third day when Barack Obama was Narcissist-in-Chief, whether he was speaking to a large, worshipful audience in a venue with a conspicuous echo effect, complaining that Cambridge, Mass., police “acted stupidly,” rhapsodizing about dead street thug Trayvon Martin as the son he never had, proselytizing before the whole world that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” or informing Dallas, Texas, cops’ widows that a Black Lives Matter sniper gave their husbands exactly what they had coming.
President Obama, whose fondness for the first person singular pronoun was unprecedented in the annals of presidential history, was nothing if not a persistent salesman, and this drive to persuade people in itself is not a bad thing.
And Donald Trump, real-estate developer billionaire turned Chief Executive, is also a consummate salesman. His critics need to get over it.
But they can’t.
No doubt Johnson would have griped about President George W. Bush leading a crowd of first-responders and a shaken nation in chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” at Ground Zero days after 9/11.
“I can hear you!” the 43rd president said at the time. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
Johnson at least had enough of a sense of fairness to quote Barton Swaim, an opinion editor at the Weekly Standard who used to write then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R) speeches. Swaim said, politically speaking, Trump can’t win. No matter what the president says, his critics will construe it in “the worst possible way.”
“I’ve always thought that these kinds of deals are a no-win situation for politicians,” he said. “There’s no good response. If you insert yourself, you look opportunistic … If you don’t, you look aloof and disconnected.”
Over at the New York Times, Frank Bruni wrote a column headlined, “The waters swell. So does Trump’s ego.” He began the piece with this smart-alecky drivel:
I would like to believe that what fascinated Donald Trump about the floodwaters of Texas and pulled him to the state on Tuesday were the scenes of human suffering. I would also like to believe that I’m a dead ring for Brad Pitt. But what Trump saw in Hurricane Harvey was a mirror of his own majesty. A storm worthy of a stud like him. A meteorological complement to one of his resorts, rallies or steaks. Something really, really big.
So because Trump was being Trump, talking big, being flamboyant and upbeat, telling Texans how much they matter to him and the rest of the country on his visit to the disaster zone, he was guilty in Bruni’s words of “opportunism and narcissism.”
Headlines in the barely-operating rag Newsweek screamed disapproval of Trump.
“Will Harvey sink the Trump presidency?”
“Trump still hasn’t responded to Mexico’s offer of Hurricane Harvey relief.” (Actually, the nation’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is working with the Mexicans.)
The flood in Houston is Trump’s fault, one headline targeting low-information voters implies: “Trump rescinded Obama’s flood-risk rule weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit.” The rule, signed by President Obama in 2015, aimed “to make infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and flooding,” but hadn’t yet taken effect. But Trump ditched the costly pork-barrel giveaway “in an attempt to speed up the time it takes for infrastructure projects to be approved.”
So Trump is to blame for rivers spilling their banks, and by extension, because he hasn’t solved the phony climate crisis in his seven months in office, he’s responsible for the hurricane that caused the greater Houston region to be inundated, too.
As NewsBusters reported, MSNBC has painted Trump as an unfeeling money-grubber because he unrolled his tax reform agenda while Texans were still suffering, as if all the business of the federal government must grind to a halt because one part of the country is suffering the effects of a natural disaster.
An MSNBC graphic smeared the president: “Trump talks taxes as Gulf death toll climbs.”
MSNBC’s resident dingbat Joy Reid falsely claimed Trump had not hired a FEMA director and suggested his response to the disaster was evidence of sociopathy. The president cannot “understand” the “misery” of hurricane victims, she said, adding, bizarrely, that he viewed the hurricane as an “accomplishment.”
On “This Morning” on CBS, those on camera stopped just short of saying they hoped the disaster would derail Trump’s plan on taxes and the construction of a wall on the nation’s southern border. According to NewsBusters, the show also featured a segment that included an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist representing Vermont.
The journalists continued the hypocritical 180 they have done on Republican presidents and visiting disaster relief areas. For George W. Bush, they complained the President took too long. With Trump he is going too quickly.
Then there was the extraordinarily idiotic, petty commentary on first lady Melania Trump’s choice of footwear. Before her journey to Texas got underway, she was wearing fashionable black stiletto heels. By the time she arrived in the Lone Star State, she was wearing white sneakers. Apparently, this is a serious subject worthy of journalistic inquiry.
The catty Christina Cauterucci savaged these sartorial choices at the increasingly irrelevant Slate.com. Mrs. Trump “would risk an ankle sprain by merely stepping out of a climate-controlled limousine in those shoes,” Cauterucci wrote, referring to the shoes FLOTUS did not actually wear in Texas, “never mind walking through mud and debris to comfort evacuees recouping in shelters.”
Of her understated attire on the ground – white blouse, black pants – the writer added that “the rest of her outfit was just as obnoxious.” If Melania had wrapped herself in something from Old Navy and donned boots, then this mewling reporter would no doubt have scolded the first lady for dressing beneath the dignity of a president’s wife – or something. Any excuse to bash a Trump.
Mrs. Trump’s black-nationalist predecessor, who wasn’t proud of her country until voters made the catastrophic mistake of electing her husband president, went on haute couture sprees that paralyzed Manhattan and various international capitals and that would have made Marie Antoinette blush. But Michelle Obama was a left-wing Democrat, and that makes all the difference.
Donald Trump is doing what Americans put him in the Oval Office to do, and Melania Trump has been serving in a supporting role, which is what first ladies are supposed to do.
But that’s not good enough for Trump-haters. Nothing is.