Presidential historian Tevi Troy literally wrote the book about White House response to national crisis. He is the author of “Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office,” published last year.
Mr. Troy has a very promising response to what he saw this week following a catastrophic weather event in the Lone Star State.
“President Trump visited Texas Tuesday to assess the damage from Hurricane Harvey and show concern for its victims. So far, his administration is largely getting praise for effective handling of the crisis,” Mr. Troy writes in The Wall Street Journal.
“Washington’s disaster authorities appear to be in sync with the state on roles and responsibilities; the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its leader, Brock Long, deployed resources as Harvey approached; and the government response as a whole appears well coordinated,” the historian noted, offering accolades for such White House denizens John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff — plus his deputy Kirstjen Nielsen, along with Tom Bossert, a homeland security advisor.
“It may be premature to conclude that Mr. Kelly has succeeded in bringing order to the Oval Office, but Harvey has demonstrated a reassuring ability to focus on a disaster when needed,” said Mr. Troy.
There also appears to be some uncommon praise in the mix — this for Mr. Trump’s dynamic social media presence, which often delights his fans and vexes his critics.
“Thus far, the most controversial part of the president’s hurricane response has been communications. On the positive side of the ledger, Mr. Trump has used his vast Twitter following both to provide useful information and to convey that the White House is actively monitoring events. On Tuesday he retweeted an urgent alert from Brazoria County saying that a levee at Columbia Lakes had been breached and residents needed to get out immediately,” Mr. Troy continued.
“Mr. Trump’s tweets about the storm have been informative and responsible, with a tone appropriate to the human tragedy. To the extent he has been criticized, it has been mostly for tweeting on unrelated topics, such as his pardoning of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the ‘great’ new book by Sheriff David Clarke,” the author observed.
“Although it isn’t realistic to expect the White House to eschew all other subjects during a crisis, perhaps the president could avoid tweeting about unessential matters until the storm passes,” Mr. Troy advised.
“The Trump administration would serve Americans well by following its successful approach to this first crisis with a continuing focus on disaster management. Today it’s Harvey. Tomorrow, who knows?” he added.
First lady Melania Trump was also part of the official Harvey response. She accompanied Mr. Trump to Texas and issued her own statement.
“I want to be able to offer my help and support in the most productive way possible, not through just words, but also action. What I found to be the most profound during the visit was not only the strength and resilience of the people of Texas, but the compassion and sense of community that has taken over the State. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Texas and Louisiana,” Mrs. Trump said.