Good news, Mr. President: You in all seriousness should not bother visiting Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
If you stayed on the golf course, you’d do less harm.
The last thing the 3.4 million Americans in post-Maria Puerto Rico need is Donald J. Trump, live and in person and taking everything personally, still going off on San Juan’s frantic, frustrated mayor for refusing to overlook reality and agree that the federal response is somehow a “good news story.”
But beyond that, there’s an important logistical reason to stay away: The power is still out in the airport in San Juan, very few flights are able to get in and out as it is, and if you go in on Tuesday, that means that those other vital flights will be even more limited for the sake of your security.
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To put that another way, having managed to stay away for nearly two weeks since the storm, keep up the good work. How’s that?
When San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz begged for help — for mercy, really — for the half of the island that’s still without water, it was as far from a personal or political attack as you could get.
“This is what we got last night,’’ she said on Friday, “four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of infant food, which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking off a creek. So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.”
Instead of thinking, hey, I can relate to being all of those things — in fact, I ran on them — and how can we help, you of course instead concluded that the mayor “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”
Now it’s nasty to want water and other staples when people are, as she says, dying?
Also dead wrong is your insistence that those layabout Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
When I finally got through by phone to my friend Jorge Peirats in San Juan on Saturday, he said, as so many others have reported, too, that the only “good news” of this whole devastating event has been the sense of community — with neighbors out with machetes clearing roads, and those with a little gas in the backyard grill cooking whatever food others had, and doctors working around the clock caring for patients in hospitals that have run out of diesel to run their generators.
“For the most part, everybody’s very respectful and helping each other, even in these huge lines,” he said.
Remember when George W. Bush was criticized for just doing a flyover of the damage to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?
This is more like shouting, “Hey, lazybones!” while buzzing the victims.
When the crisis is past — and that’s going to be a while — you can go and take credit. But for now, staying away would be an act of compassion.
Melinda Henneberger is a columnist and member of The Kansas City Star’s editorial board.