As hurricane season gets underway, Donald Trump traveled to FEMA headquarters yesterday for a briefing on hurricane preparedness, which was broken up into a public session and a private one. The 16-minute session that we could see didn't go especially well.
The president almost completely ignored Puerto Rico; he singled out Scott Pruitt's scandal-plagued EPA for praise; and he told attendees, "[I]n terms of increased branding, the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what's happened."
Yes, Trump's preoccupation with the Coast Guard's "brand" continues to be weird.
But the lengthier behind-closed-doors portion of the FEMA briefing may have been worse. The Washington Post reported:
...Trump had a lot else on his mind, turning the closed-door discussion into soliloquies on his prowess in negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, the effectiveness of his political endorsements, the Republican Party's fortunes, the vagaries of Defense Department purchasing guidelines, his dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, his unending love of coal and his breezy optimism about his planned Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Despite recent reports on a vastly expanded death toll in Puerto Rico, Trump only "briefly" referred to the island in the private session and "did not mention Puerto Rico's victims."
The Post added, "Hurricane briefings usually give politicians a chance to look decisive, and Trump bragged to friends last fall that his administration had handled a slew of hurricanes quite well. Many of Trump's thoughts Thursday, however, did not relate to hurricanes."
He did, however, have extensive thoughts about the results from this week's primaries in California -- which the president apparently thought were about him. "We won every seat that I endorsed," Trump told attendees. "The ones we didn't give, they didn't do too well, as you probably know."
Remember, this was a FEMA briefing on hurricane preparedness.
What's more, Trump wasn't playing for the cameras -- because there were no cameras for the private portion of the briefing. Instead, the president apparently spent 40 minutes telling his own team how impressed he is with his awesome awesomeness, not as part of some ham-fisted pitch to the public, but because officials who are involved with disaster responses happened to be within earshot.