It’s been two weeks since a wind-whipped firestorm in Maui took the lives of more than 100 people, with a death toll still mounting. Most remains are yet unidentified, and it is believed that 850 souls are still among the missing. As Hawaii tries to pick up the pieces, a seemingly indifferent President Joe Biden decided to take a day off from his second vacation this month to mouth some platitudes and tour the ravaged island by helicopter.
The problem for Biden is that the locals were loaded for bear.
It didn’t turn out to be the photo-op visit of the distressed rushing in for hugs and emotional support. At first, the president seemed to dismiss the tragedy with “No comment,” enraging Americans in every state. Doubling down on that misstep, Biden could not remember the name of the island two days later, describing it as “the one where you see on television all of the time.” Even members of his own political party were incensed. But he did let those affected residents have $700 of FEMA money to find a $500-a-night hotel room and food, so there’s that.
Rebel News on the ground in Lahaina asked residents – who have no place to live, are missing loved ones, and wondering if they can ever return to their normal lives — about the president visiting the disaster zone. Without hesitation, one woman went off:
“Why aren’t you taking care of what you claim to be in charge of instead of sending all these funds to Ukraine? He should take care of us first. I don’t see why any president wouldn’t step up and take care of his people first. This is a stupid move on his part. Biden is an idiot! Sorry, no, not sorry.”
That was the tone of the overall response to those precious few minutes Biden spent attempting to look presidential.
How’s Campaigning in Hawaii, Joe?
Joe and First Lady Jill landed in Maui to be met by protesters gathered across the street from the Kapalua Airport holding signs that read “It’s too late” and “Actions speak louder than words.” The Biden motorcade rolled through quickly cleared streets to Lahaina, where Marine One was waiting to whisk away the couple for an air tour, safely away from sandbag stumbles.
While speaking in what used to be the historic downtown of Lahaina, Biden stood next to a 150-year-old banyan tree that was visibly burned but still standing strong. It became an ideal photo backdrop for the octogenarian president. “Today it’s burned, but it’s still standing,” Biden said of the banyan. “The tree survived for a reason. I believe it’s a very powerful symbol of what we can and will do to get through this crisis.”
During his brief remarks, the president reminded residents of what his administration had done so far: FEMA had given out tens of thousands of blankets and meals to displaced people, and his Department of Housing and Urban Development is tapped with locating temporary housing.
“For as long as it takes,” he droned, “we’re going to be with you. The whole country will be with you.”
But that didn’t ring true for one resident, Dennis Mullen, who spoke with the New York Post: “Any number of military aircraft, planes, and helicopters could have flown in here. To leave a town that was just devastated and shut down was just ridiculous. The runway wasn’t cratered.”
Mullen continued, “Where has the president been?” The Maui resident claimed that little to no supplies have been brought into the devastated area.
Another protester along the route to Marine One held up a primitive handmade sign comparing the money sent to Ukraine with $700 per person sent to Hawaii. The demonstrator calculated that each Ukrainian had received more than $1,700 since the Russian invasion.
It was a stark reminder that Biden seems to be missing when the chips are down in the USA, bringing up lingering sour feelings about the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, OH. Biden skipped a visit to the disaster area at the time to head to Eastern Europe for visit with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Skip Hawaii and Go Back to Ukraine
The lackluster involvement of the Biden administration has created further turmoil in a state that for decades has voted Democratic all the way. It’s not a good look when, on the day the president jets to Maui to give condolences and pledge future support, his government announced it was sending $200 million in defensive capabilities to war-torn Ukraine. Perhaps that is why the streets were lined with placards telling the first couple to pack up, return to Lake Tahoe, and finish their vacation days in luxury.
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