Put Honoré in charge!
If Donald Trump really wants to rescue the 3.5 million hurricane-ravaged American citizens of Puerto Rico, he needs to dump the rah-rah Homeland Security secretary who sees Washington’s response as a “good-news story” and is “very satisfied” with the results so far.
In her place: Who better than the hard-driving hero of Hurricane Katrina, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré?
“Quit being stuck on stupid!” the order-barking general thundered in New Orleans.
Trump’s woman coordinating Hurricane Maria relief, Elaine Duke, is clearly not up to the massive task. Or else she is reflecting her boss’s hostility toward the island’s “politically motivated ingrates” who have the audacity to believe they are just as American as the hurricane survivors of Texas and Florida – and just as deserving of federal help.
Duke’s “good-news story” crack infuriated San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. This is “not a good-news story,” the mayor fumed on CNN. “This is a people-are-dying story,” she said. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good-news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good-news story. When you have to pull people down from buildings – I’m sorry, that really upsets me and frustrates me.”
The mayor does have a point.
In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and the federal levees broke in New Orleans, Lt. Gen. Honoré didn’t swoop in on a cloud of happy talk. He ordered armed troops to lower their weapons – “We’re on a rescue mission, damn it!” – and got everyone working together. Lives were on the line, and he got busy saving them.
When President Trump, holed up at his golf resort in New Jersey, launched a Twitter attack against Mayor Cruz, Lt. Gen. Honoré knew exactly how to tell the players apart. “The mayor’s living on a cot,” he responded, “and I hope the president has a good day at golf.”
Saying Maria was even worse for Puerto Rico than Katrina was for New Orleans, he laid out his own rescue plan, starting with an attitude adjustment in Washington and a far larger commitment of U.S. troops. “The president has shown again he don’t give a damn about poor people,” the plain-spoken general said.
You know this plain-talking general would be ready for duty again.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is the best-selling author of a dozen books including the upcoming “Trumpitude: The Secret Confessions of Donald’s Brain.” He is on Twitter @henican.