President Donald Trump took off early Wednesday morning to the Carolinas to survey the damage following the recent Hurricane Florence which smacked the area hard.
Trump needed to go after the recent criticism that he ignored the dying in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria decimated the island last year.
With nearly 3000 dead in Puerto Rico Trump spent more time tweeting about how there really weren’t that many dead than he spent on the ground trying to help survivors there.
The overwhelming optic offered at the time was of Trump on the ground tossing paper towel rolls at survivors as if he were involved in some bizarre one-on-one basketball game – or as some critics said, was busy tossing scraps to the suffering before he bolted out of town.
This time in the Carolinas Trump tried to do better. He spent most of the day on the ground and met with citizens struggling to rebuild. He met with civic leaders and first responders as well and warned them there would be tough days ahead.
One Carolina resident offered to show the president her destroyed home. Another said he named his dog after the president – no word according to the pool of reporters there whether the man named his dog Donald, Trump or both.
But Trump, who has been uncharacteristically laconic recently, obviously had planned out his response to this hurricane far better than how he responded to the battering Puerto Rico received last year.
So far Trump hasn’t blamed local officials. He’s praised FEMA and he spent most of the day on the ground meeting and greeting folks in a far more humbly managed outing than his Puerto Rican trip.
Bill Shine, the new White House Communications Director and former FOX News executive brings a lot more steadiness to producing the president’s reality show than others before him and probably had a lot to do with the ease Trump handled himself this time around.
Trump appeared in a word – presidential – when he hasn’t in these types of situations before.
His Twitter feed, along with disputing the number of dead in Puerto Rico, has also during the last week included a variety of NOAA warnings and urged people to be safe and get to higher ground.
That too shows the president has learned from his mistakes after Puerto Rico.
But there are still things of great concern because of this president and his actions.
The callous nature of calling into doubt the cause of the deaths of 3,000 people in Puerto Rico does not go down well with most people.
It seems shallow, pointless, hard hearted and without empathy.
But there is the other shoe that will drop.
Puerto Rico was disaparaged. Its civic leaders were insulted and blamed heaped upon them.
It was talked about as an isolated island and at times Trump seemed to not understand that the government of Puerto Rico is the United States of America.
But more than that, people will ultimately look at the demographics and wonder why things have changed from Puerto Rico to the Carolinas.
The people of Puerto Rico are mostly Hispanic.
The people in the Carolinas are mostly white.
The people in the Carolinas are Trump’s base.
The people in the Carolinas name their dogs after the president.
The people in the Carolinas welcome the president with open arms.
Thus the optics of this disaster will be skewed under that prism forever.
Did Donald Trump show more understanding and empathy for the people in the Southern United States, particularly in the areas where many of his supporters live because they are his supporters?
One would like to think the president cares about all of the people in this country equally and normally most presidents are given the benefit of the doubt.
But there are those who will never give Trump the benefit of the doubt.
He adds to his own tale of woe by his tweets, his seeming indifference to most who do not give him fealty and his intolerance of those he truly cannot stand.
His staff keeps him cornered and held down as if he were a petulant child – not letting him interact with anyone other than those who apparently love him.
Otherwise we all get to see the president playing “toss the paper towel rolls” to hurricane victims.
How this all falls out remains one of the unanswered questions of our time because if anything is true abou the Trump administration it is: Facts and logic do not apply.