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Trump: The best job we did was Puerto Rico

As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, President Trump praised his widely-criticized response to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Nearly 3,000 people died in the Maria's aftermath in Puerto Rico and much of the population was without power for many months after the storm.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 9:58 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 10:10 PM

What could be worse than "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"?

How about, "I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success"?

They are statements of a piece, and on par in their lack of compassion and elegance. Both are from presidents striking the wrong tone in the devastating aftermath of a hurricane.

The first, from George W. Bush, was issued in the midst of what was becoming a genuine human tragedy of flooding, looting and death. His late reaction to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is perhaps the most out-of-touch moment for a divisive president who had a steady hand after the nation was united by terror, but saw it become divided by his war and his politics. The statement about his FEMA chief haunts the Bush legacy.

The second is something President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

It ignores the fact of devastation, a year after Hurricane Maria left nearly 3,000 Americans dead.

But in terms of comments that could haunt Trump's legacy? It has a lot of competition.

Bush didn't even declare victory when he stood under that "Mission Accomplished" banner, and spent years living it down. Trump declares victory all the time. In trade wars. Against ISIS. On North Korea. Nobody thinks anything has actually been won, but a declaration under Trump is a different thing than under other presidents.

Another potential contrast, offered by the 17th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, was the image of Trump, before a solemn speech and fitting tribute, tweeting about Russia and fist-pumping on a tarmac.

That kind of behavior makes one wonder how Trump will react at the nation's low points. 9/11 was a standout moment for Bush as a leader, when he addressed the nation. Days later he was at Ground Zero, rallying the country.

It is interesting to the point of unbelievable that Bush, who has been a favorite punching bag of Trump for years, is choosing this moment to come out of a self-imposed political exile and try to help Republican candidates in November with a series of fundraisers, mostly in Florida and Texas. The GOP under Trump is looking at a possible Democratic wave in this election not completely unlike the one in the 2006 midterm, after Katrina, when Bush's unpopularity, coupled with the unpopularity of the Iraq War, cost Republicans the House.

"While he prefers to consider himself retired from politics, President Bush recognizes how important it is to keep the Senate and decided to help a few key candidates," Freddy Ford, a Bush spokesman, told Politico.

Bush left office in 2009 so unpopular and tainted by Iraq and Katrina -- with 34% approval on his last day in office according to Gallup -- that he was essentially unwelcome on the campaign trail for Republican candidates for a decade.

Trump 's approval rating is at 36% in a new CNN poll, but he is at a different place in his presidency -- staring at his first midterm and the possibility of a Democratic takeover on Capitol Hill as well as planning a reelection campaign. In his own first midterm, Bush actually bucked history, and his party gained Senate and House seats as the country marched toward war with Iraq.

With so much of the Trump presidency still before us, it's a little hard to think about what will happen for him next. Leaving office with his low approval ratings, Bush talked about letting the historians judge him.

Americans generally have gotten kinder as the years have gone by. And his staying out of politics has surely helped. By the time Trump was inaugurated, Bush's approval was over 60%.

Since then Bush has not exactly opposed Trump, but he raised the alarm about nationalism in a speech and also seemed to contradict Trump's "America First" policy when he was honored for his work fighting AIDS in Africa.

"If we are together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided, all will fail," Bush said, quoting Churchill.

In 2010, when Republicans took control of the House from Democrats with help from tea party activists, Bush sat on the sidelines.

In successive elections, when Mitt Romney challenged President Barack Obama, Bush sat on the sidelines. When Republicans finally took control of the Senate in 2014, he sat it out.

He largely sat out 2016, too, although he did surface briefly to support his brother, whose primary campaign never really caught on, which Trump said was because of Jeb Bush's "low-energy."

But now he's back, for a short time, trying to help a very different President's GOP.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
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