As Hurricane Michael decimated the Florida Panhandle before approaching the Carolinas, President Donald Trump caught flack for holding a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said that the president was
“holding a full-on pep rally while Americans are suffering and dying in northwest Florida.”
As the criticism grew stronger, hosts of Fox and Friends--arguably the president's favorite morning show on his favorite network--grasped at straws to defend him.
After reminding viewers that the president didn't want to let down the people waiting in line for his rally, co-host Steve Doocy added that the president began the speech by "talking about thoughts and prayers of the people down there.” Another co-host, Brian Kilmeade, assured viewers that the reason the president called into Fox News host Sharon Bream's show "was to say 'listen, I’m here at the rally, but my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida.'"
A video of the exchange is available at Mediaite.
With two people already dead and over 100 thousand Floridians without power, Americans aren't buying it.
@DeanObeidallah @Mediaite Thoughts and prayers! We're saved! Who needs water & medicine when we've got obtuse platitudes?— 11-yr PharmD / Italian Scallion (@11-yr PharmD / Italian Scallion)1539258171.0
I'm always amused when DJT extends #ThoughtsAndPrayers, since he's incapable of one and doesn't perform the other. https://t.co/2ShFZKLTX1— Colley Cibber (@Colley Cibber)1539259616.0
@DeanObeidallah @aedaw9i @Mediaite "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" is a phrase that comes to mind.— Pat Hartman (@Pat Hartman)1539265343.0
Even by Trump's own standards, holding a campaign rally amidst an impending national disaster is gauche at best.
As Americans everywhere have come to learn, there's a Trump tweet for everything--including for this.
Yesterday Obama campaigned with JayZ & Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy victims across NY & NJ are still decimated by Sandy. Wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1352232075.0
Let’s be honest, if Obama thought he could get away with campaigning during the storm, then he would have been in Ohio on Monday.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1351619499.0
Many are holding him to this standard until the president's "thoughts and prayers" do something to improve the situation.
As a Category 4 hurricane hit our country’s Gulf Coast, Trump flew to Pennsylvania to attend a political rally. Th… https://t.co/CjF5naQm7J— Greg Leding (@Greg Leding)1539269245.0
@realDonaldTrump Seriously ? Instead of doing rally y don’t u go back to White House and monitor hurricane Michael ?— wahtote (@wahtote)1539269217.0
850K without power in Florida in the wake of hurricane Michael. But, Trump is off to his ‘rally’. Said thousands… https://t.co/TtJu6YBU9u— iAble (@iAble)1539269136.0
It has others pointing out Trump's consistency in bungling responses to national disasters.
Trump on Hurricane Maria: Throw paper towels & let 3,000 people die. Trump on Hurricane Florence: “It was the wette… https://t.co/XUfA0AsYUo— Pablo Kutter (@Pablo Kutter)1539264588.0
@jonsinterests @FoxNews @POTUS @Andrews_JBA @ShannonBream Hurricane Michael is a currently ongoing natural disaster… https://t.co/MmGmeI36Gv— Coretta (@Coretta)1539226095.0
I would fully expect Trump to brag about the strength of Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Harvey, Florence and Michael becau… https://t.co/y8ebbUriwY— #TrumpCult clown Scott Walker gone. Trump is next! (@#TrumpCult clown Scott Walker gone. Trump is next!)1539208253.0
Additionally, even the phrase "thoughts and prayers" has evolved from genuine wishes for hope and recovery during America's most trying times to a patronizing phrase used to numb the expectation of actual action. This is exemplified best with reactions to the mass shooting crisis in the United States.
Though the words ring hollow, rest assured that the folks at Fox News find them redemptive. Even if "thoughts and prayers" don't bring power back to 800,000 people, there's always paper towel rolls.