Donald Trump paid a visit to Texas on Monday to survey the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and promise aid to help the state recover as quickly as possible, but it is what the president did not do that is sparking controversy this week.
During the trip, Trump met with local officials and spoke to cheering crowds, but he did not meet with any actual victims of the hurricane, Politico reported. This led to criticism that Trump was more obsessed with image than actually helping after the disaster, something that Politico writer Josh Dawsey seized on.
Dawsey wrote that the visit “gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted,” including a chance to praise the turnout for his remarks. As Trump spoke to the people gathered, he remarked on the turnout and complimented the crowd.
“And it showed that the president, who often obsesses about crowd size and fame while speaking in hyperbolic superlatives, would not drop those traits even amid hurricane cleanup,” Dawsey wrote. “He praised his Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Brock Long, for becoming ‘famous’ during his frequent TV appearances, talked repeatedly about the historic nature of the storm and marveled at adoring Texas residents who greeted him.”
This is not the first time Donald Trump has been accused of using the tragedy surrounding Hurricane Harvey as a way to draw attention to himself. On Friday, as the storm first started to make landfall, Trump announced his pardon of controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been found in contempt of court for refusing to obey an order that his department stop racially profiling Hispanics.
In a press conference this week, Trump said he timed the announcement of Arpaio’s pardon to coincide with Hurricane Harvey’s landfall because he knew the attention on the storm would bring better ratings.
The trip sparked controversy even before Trump landed in Texas, though critics accuse political opponents of manufacturing the outrage. As Donald Trump and his wife Melania boarded Air Force One in Washington, photographers snapped shots of the First Lady sporting a designer jacket and 5-inch stiletto heels, the New York Times noted. The pictures went viral across the internet as critics seized on her choice of dress, which they claimed was not sensitive given the widespread destruction and loss of life brought on by the hurricane.
Melania was wearing different shoes once the plane landed in Texas, and even some of Trump’s harshest critics said the flap over her choice of footwear was misguided.
Donald Trump continues to draw criticism for his trip to Texas, however, as critics say the tone was more that of a political rally than a visit to a storm-torn region. Trump also did not visit Houston, the hardest hit area, but White House officials said they did not want to add more logistical problems to a region where all of the resources are focused on rescue efforts.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]