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After Hurricane Maria fully exposed the extent of Puerto Rican public corruption and incompetence, President Trump allowed his supposedly expert professional advisors and disaster response agency leaders to drive the pace of response. As a result, Puerto Rico is still in significantly worse shape than Texas. Also as a result, Puerto Ricans, who are all American citizens, moved in large numbers to Florida, where they may well flip the state to the Democrats in 2020.
It is in President Trump’s and Governor DeSantis’s interest to very publicly show what a difference Republican leadership makes in response to a hurricane. President Trump took the first right step by canceling his trip to Poland. He is sending Vice President Pence in his place to commemorate Poland’s valiant struggle against the Germans and Russians, a place they find themselves in again today on the economic level. President Trump has communicated to the public and the government where his priorities lie.
President Trump addressed the American people on August 29th in a 90-second video, and had his team build in satellite time-lapse imagery of the approaching storm, to make the point of how serious it seems:
President Trump then reemphasized the danger in his walk-out press talk on 30 August. By the way, he was very gracious about the firing of his executive assistant, calling her a good person and offering mitigation for the circumstances under which she crossed the line. The line crossed apparently involved false comments about his view of his younger daughter, Tiffany. He also connected the relative restraint of the Chinese government in Hong Kong to their need to get the U.S.-China trade relationship settled.
Governor DeSantis broadcast Friday morning, flanked by his National Guard Adjutant General (two-star Air Force National Guard general (federally recognized)) and Department of Emergency Management director. He said all the things you expect a competent Florida governor to say to his state’s residents:
He then appeared in Palm County Friday afternoon, with an update. He stated this county was now more likely to hit hard. He called for people to have 7 days of food and water, and expect power to be out for some time. He gave the warning order on shelters and then said inspectors were checking every assisted living facility to ensure they had back up power and were in compliance, with a not too subtle unspoken or else. He pointed out total transparency of the good and bad facilities and a court case that a bad facility recently lost, presumably with bad things happening to the miscreants.
His message to everyone was: “the time to act is now, it is a slower-moving storm, but the time to act is now.” He laid out a massive fuel truck operation, with neighboring states waiving truck weight restrictions on tanker trucks, that was underway to prevent fuel being the limiting factor on evacuation or response. They are filling every gas station tank, and local fuel storage facility as fast as possible.
If it’s just raining like cats ‘n’ dogs, that’s a win, but that is now the low probability scenario for some part of Florida.
Naturally, the Democrats’ media mouthpieces were working to spoil any goodwill. See the ABC News headline for a supposed “news” story, not in an “opinion” section: “Trump declares emergency in Florida with millions – and his clubs – in Dorian’s path.” You are not supposed to be confused by the Great Big Ugly Man’s expressions of concern. Just in case, ABC is here to set you straight: it is really all about President Trump’s own property in the state.
ABC News hates Trump, and they hate you for daring to not hate him. They want a disaster they can blame on Republicans, just like they want you thrown out of work in a recession, so you will either stay home or see the light and vote their party back into total power next year. Same for their kindred spirits in the rest of the leftist media cadre, the exceptions proving the rule.
Both the president and the governor should make very strong statements warning against public or private fraud or theft connected with the storm. Likewise, they should profusely praise local communities and officials who are doing the right thing and rapidly, effectively preparing and responding. Shortly after the storm, President Trump should order AG Barr to perp walk Puerto Rican public officials who misappropriated federal funds or materials from 2017. No tweets, an actual written presidential order.
Both the president and the Florida governor should make a point of meeting with Puerto Ricans who moved to Florida after Maria, and who are now in the path of Dorian. Shake hands, give out hugs as appropriate. Make the point that all American citizens are equal, where ever they live. Make sure that all Floridians, however recent, know for a fact that Republicans of the Trump faction care and are competent, that this is the ticket to vote next year.
[Updated 1 September]
Governor DeSantis is using the Florida governor’s official webpage to post daily public updates on Hurricane Dorian. These are blasted out to media as well. It is a clear, well organized and comprehensive briefing. To facilitate partial evacuations, he has already suspended tolls on the relevant state highways.
Politico has done an initial political assessment, of Governor DeSantis and Hurricane Dorian, perhaps disappointed:
Dealing with the complexities – and politics – of natural disasters has enhanced the reputations of previous Florida governors, including Jeb Bush and Rick Scott. And even though Dorian’s track is ticking east, which could spare Florida from a direct hit this week, the storm has required DeSantis to test-drive his administration’s emergency management capabilities amid the threat of widespread power outages, flooding and fatalities.
DeSantis so far is handling his first major appearance in the hurricane spotlight, a rite of passage for Florida governors, well. As the Category 4 storm approaches Florida’s east coast, the political stakes are high for the new governor.
The rest of the piece points to past successes and failures in the state.
The human and weather story is one of a very slow-moving storm with extremely high winds. The combination means both massive wind damage and massive flooding possible within the hurricane’s arms. Dorian’s 185 mph wind speeds over the Bahamas reportedly tied the 1935 storm that hit the Florida Keys that Labor Day.
National Weather Service forecaster Eric Oglesby said Dorian now unofficially joins the Labor day hurricane of 1935 as the most powerful storms at landfall. The “Labor Day” hurricane’s wind speed was also 185 mph when it made landfall in the Florida Keys in September 1935.
Dorian is still about 205 miles from West Palm and its expected track has it staying out in the Atlantic as it heads north. However, much of Florida’s east coast remains in the “cone of uncertainty,” marking the hurricane’s potential path. The Hurricane Center said life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds remain possible along the east coast through mid-week, prompting more weather advisories and evacuations in Florida.
“I ask everyone in Hurricane Dorian’s path to heed all warnings and evacuation orders from local authorities,” President Donald Trump said of Dorian on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Governor Henry McMaster ordered the South Carolina coast evacuated, with highway lanes reversed to maximize the evacuation rate, effective Monday.
President Trump led a federal hurricane response update, in a FEMA conference room, with governors on the phone. Audio is a bit muddy.
He opened with comments on a Saturday evening spree-killing in Odessa and Midland Texas, where a motorist responded to a traffic stop by starting to shoot, hijacked a Postal Service vehicle and continued shooting his way down the road until police stopped him with deadly force. He then zeroed in on asking questions about what the chances were of Hurricane Dorian striking the U.S. coast directly. “How certain are you?” This allowed the experts to explain clearly that even the edge of the storm can bring great damage.