Here is one of the things that happened in Houston over the weekend: A hurricane visited a hurricane.
“Things are working out well,” President Trump said.
Of course he was talking about the relief efforts, and the immense humanity and strength of Texans, and the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, even as he found time to take another swing at the media, saying that the Coast Guard had gone into places that the media never would. The President is perhaps under the impression, after having avoided military service when he was of draft age (one deferment for bone spurs, the rest for education), that the war in Vietnam covered itself.
Trump finally got with victims of Harvey on Saturday, and largely conducted himself the way presidents are supposed to in moments like this. But because this was the natural disaster that happened on his watch, and because he has his own way of keeping score, the response from the state and from the government had to be as huge as the storm itself. Then Hurricane Donald was once again headed toward Washington, arriving there in time for another kind of storm, the nuclear threat posed by the nut running North Korea.
Perhaps we should start evaluating this administration — all of it, tweets and falsehoods and fabulism, controversies and conga lines of people leaving his White House — the way we do these storms. It may be the first presidency in history that can only properly be evaluated by The Weather Channel.
Certainly the irony here is that Donald Trump was asked to deal with a natural disaster after creating so many of his own as President, all the way back to March, when a few days after a well-received speech in front of Congress he accused his predecessor of wiretapping him. Months later the Justice Department officially says what we knew all along: It never happened.
But it seemed like at least a Category 3 storm when Trump accused Barack Obama of breaking the law. But the fact of things, now that we have seen everything from the tweet about the pardoning of a thug like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is that Hurricane Donald was only just gathering steam, the way what they say might be the next big storm — Irma is its name — is doing out over the Atlantic.
A Biblical rain finally stopped in Houston, leaving wreckage behind that the people in our area can understand because of Hurricane Sandy, which is still impacting lives in this area five years later. But now Hurricane Donald comes blowing into September, as he and his Republican-majority Congress face issues that could result in a government shutdown, even though the way things are going with this government, you have to say it would be hard to tell whether it is up and running or not.
The Red Cross and donations cannot help these people, in a government that truly does look less and less sustainable, starting with a President who has threatened to do his own part to shut the whole thing down if he can’t get funding for his wall along the southern border. At least he didn’t blame Harvey on Mexicans coming across the border with their bad drugs and bad intentions.
Even the worst storms, even the ones like Harvey, do end eventually. The rain does stop. The waters do finally recede. Then somehow, because of the greatness of the American people and the grace of God, at least order is restored, if not normalcy.
But normalcy in Washington, D.C., has become the storm. North Korea and nukes and James Comey and wiretaps. Feuds with Mitch McConnell and both Senators from Arizona, including the one, John McCain, battling brain cancer. No repeal and replace of Obamacare. No major legislative accomplishments of any kind.
And Russia, always Russia.
Now we will see what they all do in Washington about the debt ceiling, and infrastructure, and big talk about the granddaddy of them all, tax reform. There is always additional big talk from this President about the stock market. When you see the devastation of Harvey, though, when you see what it does to the lives of real Americans, so many of whom helped drag Trump across the finish line, you understand all over again that Wall Street helps these people about as much as his wall would.
The natural disaster has ended for now in Texas, and Louisiana, even as residents brace along the east coast for what Irma could possibly bring. So the real hurricane season isn’t over yet even as the one in Washington, the one defined by unnatural disasters, continues at full force.
“As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing,” Trump said this weekend. “I think even for the country to watch and for the world to watch.”
He was talking about Hurricane Harvey. Not his own, and the way the world looks at it. You keep wondering what will happen when the big one really does hit. That would be Hurricane Robert. As in Mueller.