There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Trump administration’s ability to handle Hurricane Harvey but to Fox News Trumpster Harris Faulkner, safe inside a New York studio, there’s nothing not to love in advance.
Trump administration vacancies may well harm the federal response to Hurricane Harvey
As Harvey bears down on Texas with the possibility of more than 35 inches of rain in some areas, key positions in the Trump administration remain empty. Think Progress explains:
President Donald Trump’s pick for FEMA director, Brock Long, was confirmed by the Senate in June, but the position of NOAA administrator — the country’s primary weather and storm forecasting agency — remains unfilled. Moreover, crucial leadership positions in the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center sit vacant, as both a director and a branch chief for the Hurricane Specialist Unit remain unfilled.
But perhaps most concerning for former government officials with experience dealing with major storms is the lack of leadership in key positions within the Environmental Protection Agency — an agency perhaps less associated with hurricanes, but no less important when it comes to responding to the environmental disasters that they can bring.
The Texas Gulf Coast is home to nearly one-third of the United States’ refining capacity, making it an area especially prone to a storm-created environmental disaster.
Also, Trump has not named a permanent director of Homeland Security, which overseas FEMA, to replace John Kelly, now Trump’s chief of staff:
Fox News wants you to think the Trump administration is a model of Hurricane Harvey preparedness
Fox’s Outnumbered show seemed to make a point of echoing Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who suggested yesterday that Kelly’s mere presence in the White House is all the administration needs to successfully handle Harvey:
I think that we are in great shape having General Kelly sitting next to the President throughout this process—and probably no better Chief of Staff for the President during the hurricane season. And the President has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses and certainly something he’s very aware of, and we’ll keep a very watchful eye on, and stands ready to provide resources if needed.
Faulkner sounded almost awestruck about that:
FAULKNER: I want to talk about what’s going on behind the president that is a huge difference perhaps than anything we’ve ever seen before. And that is John Kelly, as chief of staff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, under which FEMA was. That makes a difference. That’s the type of leadership you have next to the president in the White House.
The other cohosts hedged their bets a bit.
Cohost Gillian Turner agreed that Kelly will “make a world of difference.” She called him “the ideal person to have inside the White House” and “a huge plus for the president to have in his pocket.”
But she also warned that storms like Harvey “can make or break presidencies.”
Cohost Dagen McDowell said pointedly that the “only thing” Trump should be talking or Tweeting about is the storm, the response and the people affected. Then, McDowell went on to take gratuitous swipes at President Barack Obama for playing golf and doing the wave at a baseball game in Cuba after terrorist attacks. It’s worth noting that those terror attacks were abroad, not a catastrophe happening at home. And, funny, McDowell said nothing about Obama’s much-approved response to Hurricane Sandy.
Panelist Katie Pavlich (not a Trumper, by the way) called the local response “key.” Which was also a nice way of setting up an excuse for any federal failures.
Cohost David Webb also pushed the local-response angle. “We’re not gonna have another 'Good job, Brownie' moment," he said, referring to Bush’s infamously clueless response to Katrina. “One of the reasons, you’ve got a state that’s cooperating, you’ve got localities that are cooperating, you’ve got coordination going on ahead of this… You have a better highway system, you have a better escape route going northward.” But, he noted, “Louisiana should be of concern” because there are “very few exit points.”
However, near the end of the segment, Webb also gushed over Kelly. “Think of someone who knows how to move assets, as he did as commander of SOCOM, someone who looks at the capabilities.” Webb noted that “air assets” and “ground assets” are available at and near a FEMA base near San Antonio. “He knows how to deploy them and he has a good team… so the president actually has a great tactical team that can follow through.”
Watch Fox pre-spin Hurricane Harvey below, from the August 25, 2017 Outnumbered below.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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