- - Tuesday, October 3, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

That didn’t take long.

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, ripping off roofs with 200 mph gusts, crushing the island’s electrical grid and heavily damaging roads and residences with torrential rains.

Even before the storm hit the U.S. territory, home to some 3.5 million people, President Trump declared a federal emergency for the island, putting into action a massive rescue-and-relief plan and freeing up millions in aid. The federal government dispatched the military and throngs of first responders to the Caribbean island, along with tons of water and food.

But just as quickly, though, Democrats and hyperliberals put their own plan into action: Paint Puerto Rico as Trump’s Katrina.

President George W. Bush lost much support from Americans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans the summer after his re-election, and critics complained that he was slow to respond. (He wasn’t: State and local officials said they had the situation in hand, and by the time it was clear they didn’t, the federal response to catch up looked insufficient.)

On Saturday the Trump Haters finally got on the same page: Forget Russian collusion, forget James Comey killing Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it’s time to hype the devastation in Puerto Rico as worse than Katrina.

Mika Brzezinski, a host on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and a perhaps-president of the We Hate Trump Club, tweeted this that morning: “First the President attacks an American hero fighting for his life, now he attacks AMERICANS suffering through 2017’s Katrina.”

And there it was, in words — direction to the liberal base to denigrate Trump’s efforts and label the devastation in Puerto Rico as “Trump’s Katrina.”

CNN piled on — but wasn’t happy to just compare Puerto Rico with one of the worst natural disasters ever in the U.S. “’Trump’s Katrina?’ No, it’s much worse,” the liberal website said.

“It is dangerous, and it is historic. Not even President George W. Bush went down that path during Hurricane Katrina, a crisis that will no longer serve as THE metric for future presidents’ failures. In the years ahead, we will stop asking ‘is this the President’s Hurricane Katrina?’ Instead, it will be ‘is this the President’s Puerto Rico?’ Trump has moved the goal post. That wasn’t easy to do. Mission accomplished,” CNN wrote.

To read more (many more), just Google “Trump’s Katrina.” You’ll get 235,000 results — and growing.

As he does, Mr. Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday to defend himself from the onslaught. “Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to ‘get Trump.’ Not fair to PR or effort!” And: “The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s. Shame!”

The mess started after the grandstanding mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, held a Saturday morning press conference claiming the federal government was doing nothing to help Puerto Ricans. Forget that she was standing in front of pallets loaded with supplies sent from the U.S.; she’s a Democrat, and she was clearly directed by party leaders to make the situation political.

And forget, too, that she was elected to help her people. Instead, in an impassioned speech that hit all the liberal touch points, Ms. Cruz said people were “dying” and she was “begging” for help.

But it turns out Ms. Cruz had been “very complimentary” of the relief effort in talks with Mr. Trump, who said she “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”

And other things came to light, too: Cruz was not in the loop and hadn’t even bothered to participate in meetings with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other federal agencies.

“The problem that we have with the mayor, unfortunately, is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response,” FEMA administrator Brock Long told CNN.

But there was more: Ms. Cruz is a big-time supporter of Hillary Clinton, endorsing her before the 2016 election.

To set the record straight, here’s what the Trump administration has done to help Puerto Rico, Reuters reports:

Sent 4,500 U.S. troops, including active duty and National Guard. Another 1,400 National Guard members arrived this week.

Dispatched the USS Kearsarge and Oak Hill, amphibious assault ships, to assist in relief efforts. Another ship arrived this week, and the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, arrives Wednesday.

Directed the Defense Logistics Agency to distribute potentially 160 million meals in 30 days.

Of course, none of this will matter. If you Google “Trump’s Katrina” next Saturday, there’ll be 500,000 hits. It’s the narrative the mainstream media will push all week.

And now you know why Mr. Trump is always complaining about “fake news.”

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @josephcurl.

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