In times of tragedy, we’re told to look for the helpers in order to feel more hopeful or less alone. Puerto Rico is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria two weeks ago, but at least relief efforts are underway (though not without some complications). And the president of the United States, after a quick geography refresher, pledged to help his fellow Americans on the island.
Trump couldn’t just make that announcement and then push FEMA to follow through, though—he first had to insult the people living without power or potable water right now. When he finally visited the U.S. territory yesterday, he continued to fail at showing basic empathy, almost immediately telling everyone there that they’re really messing with his budget. Which is why, after watching Trump treat hurricane victims like casino patrons, Stephen Colbert called the president’s visit the second disaster to hit Puerto Rico in as many weeks.
It wasn’t just that budget remark that prompted the comparison. As Colbert observes, Trump also patted himself on the back for the lives saved by Puerto Rican relief workers, told citizens their crisis doesn’t quite stack up to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, and then reacted with disgust when one woman told him she was prepared to drink purified water now that they’re out of Evian. The president also flung rolls of paper towels at people as if he were at one of his rallies, which, come to think of it, might have been what convinced him to go to Puerto Rico in the first place. Either way, Trump did little to recover ground, but maybe once there are more “certified deaths,” he can redeem himself.