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California Wildfires & Hurricane Maria: Why Was Donald Trump Slow to Acknowledge These Natural Disasters?

When the nation looks to President Trump for comfort and support, he is conspicuously silent.
trump response to natural disasters, trump california wildfires, trump hurricane maria, trump hurricane maria response

US President Donald Trump meets with US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp in the Ward Room aboard the USS Kearsarge, off Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria thrashed through the US territory, much of the islands remains short of food and without access to power or drinking water. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is a master at stoking controversy and fomenting disunity, but he’s conspicuously absent when the nation looks to its Commander-in-Chief for comfort and solace.

Trump has turned a small NFL protest into a major plebiscite on national unity.

He has ridiculed the mayor of an American city ravaged by a hurricane.

He heightens tensions regularly in a nuclear standoff with North Korea, and openly supports white supremacists protesting with tiki lamps in North Carolina.

So why is a man so used to stream-of-consciousness spewing so reticent to speak words of unity and support? The good people of California, watching their hopes and dreams get burnt to a cinder, would really like an answer.

The California wildfires in 2017 have killed more than 40 people, destroyed more than 3,500 homes and business, cut a wide swath through California wine ritzy country, burned through millions of acres, and pushed first responders to the limits of their endurance.

And from the White House? Almost radio silence. (In fact, an editorial from The San Francisco Chronicle notes, “Americans expect their president to step forward with empathy and resolve in moments of national trauma,” the paper observed. And: “This is not a man who is reticent to let Americans know what is foremost on his mind.”)

Trump announced that he has spoken with Governor Jerry Brown, and noted that his administration would be with the  “people of California and be there with you in this time of terrible tragedy and need.” His Vice President, Mike Pence, expressed gratitude towards first responders.

Major California newspapers are furious with the president, and that sentiment is echoed throughout the state.

“In that way, the state is an eerily perfect microcosm of the nation, with coastal redoubts of Democratic influence giving way to vast stretches of Republican country,” writes Alexander Nazaryan in The Los Angeles Times. “Yes, Clinton won both Napa and Sonoma. But the nearby counties of Colusa, Sutter and Yuba went for Trump, and rather handily so…

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