SEPT. 2, 2017

As Far As Harvey Goes, Trump, Not Exactly the Comforter-In-Chief


We know Trump isn’t much for reading or detail, has a short attention span and seems to only care about ratings, or how many people are at his rallies.

Sadly that includes Trump’s first Texas visit for a Harvey de-briefing.

The president seemed more interested in the size of the crowd to greet him than in the tens of thousands who were homeless from the hurricane

His message had the tone you’d expect to hear from a business leader pumping up his sales force.

“We love you. You are special. We’re here to take care,” Trump blared to a cheering crowd. “ It’s going well. And I want to thank you for coming out. We’re going to get you back and operating immediately....,Thank you everybody. What a crowd what a turnout.”

After 50 inches of rain, thousands displaced, a modern megapolis and its environs in ruins, it’s not exactly warm and fuzzy Trump.

But America wanted a business guy to lead it, and a business guy they got. Rah-rah?

Trump, who is barely draining the swamp is unlikely to accelerate the draining of Harvey. After his less than comforting performance in Texas, he was on to Missouri where he announced a tax reform plan that made you wonder how he was going to make good on any Harvey promises.

Among his budget  hits: $667 million in FEMA funding, about $200 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  to help coastal states prepare for climate change events.  There’s also $190 million from the National Flood Insurance Program, $62 million from the Weather Service, and $114 million in disaster assistance from the Agriculture Department.

The Trump business approach cuts government and cuts taxes for businesses primarily—a reduction to just 15 percent.

Basicallly, it’s tax cuts for the rich. And then let volunteers do the government stuff.

Sort of like the calls for DIY-disaster relief being staged in Houston. If Trump’s version of trickle down passes get used to it.

Though after seeing what Amercians are going through in Texas, the massive budget cuts just seem strange and heartless.

Post-Harvey politics is going to redefine small government conservatism.

When Sen. Ted Cruz starts asking the feds for what sure to be trillions to fix Texas, he’ll definitely be turning in his Tea Party song book and singing a different tune.

And Trump? He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Harvey is proof of that.


It’s good to see all the stories of good will coming out of Texas. That’s been a plus.

"This is the good part about this storm," said Ed Gor, the president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance told me by phone. He lives in Houston and wasn’t forced to evacuate. But he witnessed so many examples of strangers helping strangers.

 "You have Hispanic and White and African American helping Chinese people,” Gor said. “ I saw a Vietnamese guy, his car had stalled, and this African American and White helped the people there push his car out of the water. This is the thing about humanity that is good in natural disasters."

Houston is going to need a lot of that in the weeks to come.

I asked him if he thought the president has done enough.

At the time I called, the president had made a few perfunctory tweets. But nothing that expressed any concern for the human toll that was taking place in real time.

Nothing to indicate Trump really knew how the presidency works to help us all as a nation during a massive natural disaster.

Trump did, however, see it fit to tweet/plug a friend's book, mention something about a trip to Missouri, and tweet more on his border wall.

There were tweets about meetings and FEMA. But nothing to indicate he really gave a hoot for the people struggling with Harvey.

Nothing with any heart.

You'd expect that from a leader. No matter what party.

But after Charlottesville, we should know we don't have that kind of leader.

We have a me-first leader who elevates the neo-Nazis and white supremacists among his base nationalistic support. How else to explain his "both sides" and "many fine people" talk?

We have a guy whose Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, when asked if Trump's response represents "American values," answers tersely on Fox News Sunday, "The president speaks for himself." 

We know how Trump explains it all.

In Phoenix, he purposefully misrepresented what he said to his followers.

And the media manipulation doesn't end there. With Harvey's encroachment on Texas, we have a leader who used that news to shield the dumping of more significant negative news on the country when all attention should have been focused on the storm.

Maybe his should have too.

But is there any better time to formalize a discriminatory transgender ban in the military?

And it's probably the best time to unveil the polarizing announcement of his pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio--who was convicted of illegally racially profiling Latinos.

Is there any doubt what our divider-in-chief represents?

He likes pre-1965 America. Pre-civil rights America, when our country was not so diverse.

And despite his preference to be president for only some of us, we've come to expect a president to offer something to show concern and lift the spirits of all those suffering in Texas.

Something more significant than a 140 character tweet.

That's what a leader is supposed to do.

Gor said he’d be happy if FEMA was able to do its job and the government was able to deliver on monies to rebuild.

But then Trump offered up his tax reform plan, and well, who knows how long Houston will be treading water.


I used to live in Houston. I'd say I did a fair amount of my growing up there as a nineteen-year-old announcer at the major rock station of the time, KLOL.

I remember reading flash flood warnings from the wires during times like these. And then not heeding the warnings, I drove onto a flooded street in my low-riding car. I know the pain of Houston floods.

The memories came back as I watched the news dispatches from Texas.

Water, water everywhere. And the damage is unfathomable. Heartbreaking.

The only thing missing is a president offering empathy and comfort for everyone touched by Harvey.

If only we had that kind of president.

Sadly after that first visit to Texas and then seeing his tax plan, we know what kind of president we got.

And it’s not the one a post-Harvey nation needs.


EMIL GUILLERMO is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes from Northern California. He recently won the 2015 Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association California.

© 2008-2017 Hawaii Filipino Chronicle Inc.