Puerto Rico's governor should not stoop to Trump's level

Article Image

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he would not sit back and allow his officials to be bullied by the White House.

Posted: Mar 28, 2019 4:10 PM
Updated: Mar 28, 2019 4:10 PM

A showdown is brewing between President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló -- and it is starting to get ugly.

The President and the governor are at odds over the ongoing recovery efforts on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. In a CNN interview, the governor vented his frustration over not being able to get a meeting with Trump. Speaking with Jim Acosta, Rosselló said that he refused to be cowed by Trump. "If the bully gets close, I'll punch him in the mouth," the governor said. "It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage."

The sentiment behind the governor's outburst is completely understandable. But just as it is a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage, it is a mistake to confuse anger with strength. The sad reality is that the President is indeed a bully, and sinking to his vulgar level will likely not benefit Rosselló or his constituents.

Without a doubt, Trump's treatment of Puerto Rico has been marked by a shocking indifference to the lives of the over 3 million American citizens who live there. The island went through one of the deadliest natural disasters in the United States in a century -- largely on its own. Trump's response to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz pleading for help was to attack her on Twitter.

As the storm battered the island, the President tweeted that the people of Puerto Rico "want everything to be done for them." When he finally did visit the island, Trump tossed paper towels into a crowd as though the dire situation were a joke or game to him.

If anyone doubts the low regard Trump has for Puerto Rico, consider his response to a string of tornadoes in Alabama earlier this year. He told FEMA to give the state "the A+ treatment." That's a far cry from what Puerto Rico heard (and never mind the implication that the President is arbitrarily deciding which areas deserve the best disaster response).

Rosselló has at least 4,600 reasons to be furious at the President; that is only one estimate of the death toll from Hurricane Maria. It was arrived at after a survey by authors from Harvard University and other institutions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Even worse, now Trump is questioning the wisdom of directing more storm relief to Puerto Rico, although Congress has already approved billions of funds for it. His administration will not even give Rosselló a meeting to plead his case. "You guys have to f---ing stop with the meeting request," one administration official reportedly said, according to Rossello's top aides, who met with White House officials Wednesday.

That would be enough to make anyone lose his cool. But Rosselló must resist the temptation to be goaded into fighting at Trump's level. It doesn't work, and it only gives Trump (and his supporters) further ammunition to punch back. And when that happens, the story becomes about their animosity and battle of words, not the devastation in Puerto Rico.

Rosselló seems to understand this: In the same interview where he threatened to "punch the bully in the mouth," the governor said, "I don't think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the President does any good." Here, Rosselló is right: No rational adult should want to engage this petty President in this way. Once you've done that, you've lost.

Rosselló has a huge challenge before him. He must serve as an advocate for his constituents to a President with a demonstrated record of treating Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens.

He must get accurate information to the White House about the situation on the island.

He must keep pushing for an in-person meeting with Trump so he can impress on him that Puerto Ricans are Americans in need, and not his adversaries. Perhaps he can enlist other lawmakers, like Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, to intervene on his behalf. These would all be far more productive steps than making off-the-cuff remarks in anger.

It remains to be seen whether these are achievable goals. Rosselló may well never get Trump to empathize or care about the thousands of people who died or are suffering as a result of Hurricane Maria. Yet the governor should keep making the case for more recovery aid -- and he should do so with dignity befitting the pride of Puerto Ricans.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22464

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7540565
Ramsey2610103
Stearns198412
Nobles14883
Anoka126259
Dakota118244
Olmsted57510
Washington56230
Kandiyohi4751
Rice4112
Clay40625
Scott3792
Todd2960
Wright2691
Sherburne2192
Mower2161
Carver1852
Benton1692
Steele1480
Martin1265
Blue Earth1221
St. Louis11513
Freeborn970
Pine850
Winona7815
Nicollet747
Carlton730
Cottonwood650
Otter Tail620
Unassigned6110
Goodhue603
Watonwan590
Polk592
Crow Wing571
Itasca537
Chisago501
Dodge460
Chippewa441
Meeker440
Le Sueur431
Morrison400
Douglas390
Jackson390
Becker370
Murray360
Lyon360
Isanti330
McLeod290
Waseca240
Rock210
Swift170
Pennington170
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Wabasha170
Brown142
Faribault130
Beltrami130
Sibley130
Cass122
Norman110
Wilkin113
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pope80
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Red Lake40
Traverse30
Big Stone30
Clearwater30
Redwood30
Grant30
Lac qui Parle30
Houston20
Lake10
Hubbard10
Roseau10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18342

Reported Deaths: 496
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3876115
Woodbury265831
Black Hawk171343
Linn93876
Marshall87815
Dallas87317
Buena Vista6820
Johnson6058
Muscatine54741
Wapello5384
Crawford4882
Tama40026
Scott34610
Louisa33610
Dubuque33016
Jasper25716
Pottawattamie2277
Sioux2100
Washington1858
Wright1240
Allamakee1194
Plymouth1191
Warren1140
Story961
Poweshiek888
Mahaska888
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines581
Boone560
Taylor480
Cedar461
Guthrie443
Clarke400
Benton391
Jones360
Iowa360
Monroe354
Shelby350
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Osceola310
Marion300
Webster291
Hamilton280
Madison261
Fayette260
Monona240
Lee230
Cherokee230
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Lyon190
Grundy190
Floyd181
Sac170
Mills160
Hardin150
Butler150
Delaware150
Humboldt140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Hancock140
Appanoose133
Jackson130
Dickinson130
Clay130
Greene130
Howard120
Audubon121
Winnebago110
Cass110
Page100
Van Buren90
Franklin90
Carroll90
Pocahontas90
Chickasaw80
Emmet80
Unassigned80
Kossuth80
Adair70
Adams70
Lucas70
Union60
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Decatur10
Wayne10
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Few Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Lingering showers Thursday AM will turn to sunshine by the afternoon
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events