Donald Trump's hurricane tweets show he can always go lower
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/13/2018, 11:17 a.m.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) -- On Thursday morning, Donald Trump tweeted:
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000. This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"
So ... the President of the United States is suggesting that the Puerto Rican government -- either in cahoots with or under pressure from Democrats -- inflated the death toll of Hurricane Maria solely in order to make him look bad.
And he is making these entirely unfounded allegations as another hurricane bears down on the East Coast packing winds of more than 100 miles per hour and the very real potential for catastrophic flooding.
This should not surprise us, but it should serve as a reminder that there is not a bottom here. There is no depth that Trump will not explore in order to further his own narcissism and victimhood. There is no conspiracy he will not embrace -- or, in this case, start -- in order to improve his own personal brand or further his own political narrative.
Let's talk about the facts.
In late August, the Puerto Rican government acknowledged that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was 46 times higher than they had previously publicly acknowledged. It was not 64 people who lost their lives in the monster storm but somewhere closer to 3,000. The new estimate comes from a study conducted by the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University, and commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. CNN's own reporting reflects similar numbers.
Earlier this week, faced with the reports of the greatly expanded death toll, Trump insisted that he had done a terrific job in the country. "I actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been with respect to what this is all about," he told reporters.
That was bad enough, particularly given the fact that a) we are talking about peoples' lives here and b) another major hurricane was barreling toward the Carolinas even as Trump was touting his own performance after Hurricane Maria.
Now Trump has gone even further -- pivoting from merely defending his performance to embracing a conspiracy theory about the actual death toll from the hurricane and suggesting Democrats are secretly behind all of it. As evidence, he offers -- you guessed it! -- absolutely nothing.
Trump's twisted logic goes like this (I think): The governor of Puerto Rico -- Ricardo Rosselló -- is a Democrat. Democrats always are out to get me. When I was in Puerto Rico everything looked OK and not a lot of people died. So now Democrats are saying lots more people died -- including people with no connection to the hurricane!! -- just to make me look bad!