Something big may be happening. It’s about today’s news in the Trump/Puerto Rico story. Trump may have crossed a line, for some of his supporters. It’s conceivable, even plausible.
I am not going to claim that I can foresee how this latest from Trump– attacking the mayor of San Juan, who had begged him for help — is going to play out. The moments when something breaks through are highly unpredictable.
But this conduct might get through to some people a judgment that they’ve not come to before: “I can’t support someone who’d do that.”
The way that Trump’s response to a woman begging for help in behalf of people struggling under catastrophic conditions, that he will attack her for complaining — that display of his character shows an ugliness that is vivid enough, profound enough, and important enough according to the values of many Republicans and Trump voters, that it just might serve as a revelatory glimpse into his darkness, a glimpse that they cannot un-see.
I’m not willing to bet on it. I give it maybe 1 in 5. But that’s big enough that I want to keep an eye on whether this thing breaks through or not.
We’ve seen this before– moments in which the shameful is exposed and the person never recovers.
I think of the way that Senator Joe McCarthy, with his anti-communist demagoguery, never recovered from that famous moment on the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings, after McCarthy had been particularly cruel, when the humane lawyer Joseph Welch asked McCarthy: “Have You No Sense of Decency?”
That question might well arise in a lot of people’s minds as they seethis President strike at a woman who justifiably has begged him for more vigorous help in a humanitarian emergency.
Such human indifference doesn’t sit well with most people. Almost everyone cares about human decency. (And my impression is that “decency” of this sort is particularly high up in the scale of values of a lot of rural and agricultural people, a lot of southern people, a lot of traditional people, a lot of people of evangelical religious commitments.)
And Trump’s hostile response to this woman who is in need, and is both begging and complaining, looks especially bad in light of the underlying fact this is all about: Trump has let Puerto Rico down terribly, by any reasonable standard.
While they were out of homes and water and gas and food, he was getting everyone’s attention focused on what NFL players do to express their political beliefs. About the massive destruction on Puerto Rico, home to several million American citizens, the President of the United States had nothing really to say.
That unnecessary diversion into the NFL and the protest during the anthem, was clearly launched by Trump across racial lines: White President saying that black athletes should shut up or get fired.
Race may be what’s going on with Puerto Rico, too, No?
How else are we to understand that the Federal response to the destruction of Puerto Rico is measurably far less than what was extended to the hurricane victims of Harvey in Texas or of Irma in Florida.
And as a result, American citizens are suffering and are justifiably angry about how their country — through their elected government — is dealing with them. The mayor of San Juan was entirely right to be calling Trump out as she did.
It is in this context, that the President’s attacking the mayor who is standing up for the neglected victims of this hurricane, becomes especially ugly.
The whole thing is an ugly, ugly picture– it is Trump’s ugliness that is at the center of it. The ugliness of his neglect was mostly invisible to the American people. I didn’t “see” Trump not getting nearly as many military personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico as he did in Texas and Florida.
But this public attack on the mayor of San Juan– that ugliness is visible. It’s being shown.
Will Trump supporters recoil, seeing how indeed, Trump has no decency?
Again, I claim only it’s worth watching to see.