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Reputation trumps public good

Media often confronts us with negative news of natural disasters and world crises, and recently, positivity has been hard to find. In the past few months, California wildfires and Hurricane Florence have all been written about extensively, including horrific tales of the victims and the trauma they endured. However, for the United States president, news of a natural disaster or crisis seems to be positive.

President Trump has been criticized extensively in the media over the past year for how he has handled natural disasters, with Hurricane Harvey, Maria, and Irma and Florence just a few weeks ago. Trump has carried himself with a nonchalance and seemingly unconcerned attitude throughout these disasters. He has not been able to relate or empathize with the people affected. He has defended his own reputation at the expense of citizens affected, including people who had lost their homes and family members of victims, demonstrating a lack of empathy for the people his job promises to protect.

According to CNN, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm in 2017, with winds up to 130 mph when it first hit Texas. Trump, as most U.S. presidents do in times of natural disasters, scheduled a tour of the affected area and sent aid for people who had lost their homes and/or families. Harvey was a huge disaster that affected 13 million people, according to ABC News, yet Trump seemed more excited about the crowd that came to hear him speak, announcing with an enthusiasm more suited for a crowd at a rally compared to the devastation he was in fact addressing.

“Thank you everybody! What a crowd! What a turnout!” President Trump exclaimed during a press conference in Corpus Christi during the storm.

Throughout his speech, it seemed the main point was to recognize the amount of people who showed up to hear him. Trump seemed genuinely happy and excited to be there, but for all the wrong reasons. He was spotted wearing his campaign hats at all photo opportunities during the trip, shamelessly plugging his own campaign while simultaneously misusing publicity that should be going towards help for the victims. The focus of natural disaster relief should be helping people, not furthering capitalistic gains for an already wealthy politician. But our president seemed unbothered by the backlash he received from both his response and behavior during the hurricane, just happy he had a good turnout for his speech.

Trump then tweeted about Hurricane Florence, defending himself and his response to the disaster. The storm hit the Carolinas on Aug. 31 this year, and continued until Sept. 19. By Sept. 12, Trump was already defending his response to previous hurricanes, possibly in order to convince the people he could handle another one. Even though the response to the prior hurricanes was criticized by citizens and news outlets, Trump backs himself up and spreads a positive message that his administration is competent and confident.

“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida, and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though [it is] an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan,” Trump tweeted. “We are ready for the big one that is coming!”

He also ended the tweet on a positive note, saying that he was ready and even excited and looking forward to the devastating storm that could lead to more lives lost, but more publicity for him. Additionally, Trump seemed unconcerned with the death toll of the Puerto Rican hurricanes that reached up to 3,000 people, according to USA Today, and his main objective was to maintain his public image. This is concerning for many reasons, and leads to doubt over Trump’s views.

Infographic by Sarah Young

Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria in 2017 was unequivocally a disaster, power was out for over eight months in some places. Trump followed up his lacking response by trying to prove a university study wrong about the amount of people who died, just to defend himself and improve his image.

“Three thousand people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising billions of dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. I love Puerto Rico!” Trump exclaimed in a tweet on September 13th of this year, showing his inability to feel compassion and empathy for the thousands suffering.

This example, and the ones above, illustrate an incredibly clear picture of the mind of our president. Trump is focused on good publicity and his own reputation instead of the people suffering or losing their homes, lives, families and friends. For a president, the people should be the number one priority. Trump views himself as his own number one priority, aiming for beneficial publicity no matter what, and in this self-centered view he has shown that he doesn’t provide the empathy or support needed when his own American people suffer.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Young
Sarah Young, Former Staff
Sarah Young is a Senior at Redwood and loves to write. She is one of the Senior Staff Writers this year, and in her free time she loves to sail, hang out with friends and pet dogs.