Hurricane Florence devastated the East coast, but it also brought on a presidential tweetstorm. President Donald J. Trump’s tweets, which ranged from praising his own containment efforts to retweeting emergency agencies posting updates about the storm, echo the self-centered sentiments he has spewed since taking office.
At the onset of Florence, the president harkened back to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, although it was hardly a devastation by Trump’s accounts. He tweeted that the death toll was between six to 18 people, while a study conducted by Harvard reported upwards of 3,000 deaths, which he attributed to a ploy by the Democrats to weaken his administration. Despite criticism of the U.S. government’s relief efforts last year, Trump also said, “Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success.”
The president’s tone-deaf and blatant mistruths not only reflect his complete disregard for facts but also his inability to admit fault. Further Trump’s retweets of articles and individuals praising his administration’s relief efforts is a tactic completely self-serving in nature.
He then continued to politicize the tragedy of Hurricane Florence by blaming Democrats for their potential future backlash against his efforts, bluntly tweeting “the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”
This effort to further the partisan divide when the country is and should be coming together to facilitate relief and support for those impacted by Florence — North and South Carolina are both still reeling from the devastating flooding — shows this president is far more interested in his own image than the good of the country.
It’s not as though all of Trump’s hurricane-related statements were sickening. Trump frequently retweeted updates and warnings from local news outlets and FEMA. His retweets and seemingly heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones to this devastating storms only made his other tweets appear worse because they demonstrated that he clearly possess the capability to be professional and dignified — Trump simply chooses not to do so.
The president’s response to Hurricane Florence has spoken to not only his shortcomings as an empathetic human being, but also as president. His blatant narcissism, use of divisive tactics and prioritization of propaganda rather than facts is nothing new or surprising, but is further evidence that this man is not fit to be the president of the United States.
Madison Stephens (22C) is from Little Rock, Ark.