Even in the midst of a natural disaster, President Trump can't contain his self-congratulatory talk about the size crowds he draws. Trump traveled to Texas on Tuesday to be in the state that was recently hit by the catastrophic hurricane and tropical storm Harvey. But while trying to offer gatherers words of solace, he turned to his go-to topic, crowd size. What Trump said to Texans after Hurricane Harvey was selfish and inappropriate in light of what they have been through the last few days.
Trump landed in Corpus Christi on Tuesday, where he spoke to victims of the hurricane and subsequent tropical storm. He reportedly chose this coastal Texas town to begin his tour of Harvey's damage, because it sits not far away from some of the most severely impacted areas, but itself escaped with relatively less damage.
Speaking from atop a fire truck, Trump addressed a crowd, reportedly of mostly supporters, and told them "We want to do it better than ever before," referring to government relief efforts. He then reportedly said, "What a crowd, what a turnout," to the people who had spent the last few days dealing with a storm that has dropped record-setting rainfall on the Lone Star State. His statement was about as tone-deaf as it gets.
And it wasn't the first time that his comments to the people affected by this storm fell short. On Friday, as Hurricane Harvey, at that time a Category 4 storm, approached the Gulf Coast shore, President Trump was asked by reporters if he had any words for the people of Texas, many of whom were facing great danger in the face of this storm. His response? "Good luck to everybody."
Though these remarks don't encapsulate everything said by the president in response to this tragic event, that he would devote any of his speaking time to empty platitudes and aggrandizing remarks about the government's relief efforts or the size of the crowd that came to hear him speak is insulting to the people who need strong, effective, and focused leadership now more than ever.
And when he did attempt to inspire and comfort storm victims, the results were mixed. During his speech in Corpus Christi, Trump said "This storm, it's epic what happened. But you know what, it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything." Some enjoyed Trump's characterization of Texans as resilient. For others, like nurse Lisa Ike, who spoke to AOL News reporters on the ground, it oversimplified their struggles.
"Texas can handle anything? I just lost my house and three cars. We need help," she said.