A travel website’s commercial spokesman, Captain Obvious, inspires smiles by making exceedingly obvious comments on hotel stays. The fictional character even mounted a farcical run for president.
The truth is, Captain Obvious would make a terrible president. Instead of making people laugh, he would probably just make them hopping mad.
Such is the case with President Trump’s recent – and exceedingly obvious – declaration that federal disaster workers can’t be in Puerto Rico “forever.”
“We cannot keep FEMA, the Military &the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” the president tweeted – noting that reporter Sharyl Attkisson had said “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
Cue Captain Obvious.
Yes, Puerto Rico was a hot mess financially before Hurricane Maria laid waste to the island. Yes, it’s true that federal aid workers can’t be there indefinitely.
But why say it at all? It only comes off as callous. Toward a U.S. territory that already feels like a stepchild. With a population that Republicans have not exactly been wowing in recent history.
Worse yet, it has to feel like being kicked while you’re down. The last thing you need to hear from a president in the wake of a historic catastrophe is that you’re taking up the valuable and limited time of those there to help you.
Again, we understand the president’s position on aid workers, especially with the Federal Emergency Management Agency sprinting from hurricane to hurricane to hurricane to wildfire. And Puerto Rico has undeniably been horribly run. But absolutely nothing is helped, particularly the president’s own image and standing, by denigrating the devastated area you’re there to assist.
The completely unnecessary imbroglio also feeds a quietly growing narrative that the president is – like Puerto Rico – in a precarious situation partly of his own doing.
Outgoing Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., described the White House as “an adult day care center.” And while media attacks on Trump must be eyed with some amount of skepticism, Vanity Fair reports that the president is “unstable” and “unraveling” – and other media are painting a portrait of Nixonian isolation and anger in the Oval Office.
Prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, Vanity Fair writes, “describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.”
No doubt there are some vultures in the media who have been circling Trump since he took the oath in January. But it’s not just the media. Reading the remarks of longtime Trump confidantes, and leaks out of the administration, Vanity Fair writes, “There’s a new level of concern.”
The magazine reported that former key Trump adviser Steve Bannon has said privately that he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance to survive his full four-year term – in large part due to the 25th Amendment that allows for a president’s removal by a concerned Cabinet.
Thomas J. Barrack Jr., said to be Trump’s top presidential campaign fundraiser, reportedly told The Washington Post he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by some of Trump’s rhetoric. “In my opinion, he’s better than this,” he said.
He has to be. For everybody’s sake.