President Biden has been under fire for a delayed reaction to the deadly Maui Wildfires and a series of gaffes that occurred on his eventual visit to Hawaii. Here’s the full story.
Delayed Presidential Response
It took President Joe Biden thirteen days to travel to Hawaii after deadly wildfires consumed various islands, taking more than 100 lives and annihilating countless structures.
The President Opted for a Vacation
Instead of a prompt response, the President opted for a vacation at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, attended events in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and even embarked on a private family getaway to Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Despite the hours President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden dedicated on Monday in Lahaina – consoling survivors, appreciating the relentless efforts of first responders, and delivering speeches – the reception was far from warm.
A two-week delay in his visit after the deadly fires, coupled with his vacationing while the disaster unfolded, left a significant portion of Hawaiians feeling overlooked and undervalued. They weren’t shy about expressing it, either.
“Wow, He’s Finally Here. 13 Days”
Footage obtained by TMZ showcased citizens openly venting their frustration at the President’s motorcade, with some flipping off Biden’s motorcade and others hurling swears. One resident’s exclamation, “Wow, he’s finally here. 13 days,” captured the prevailing sentiment.
Apart from the visible delay in the President’s reaction, his administration has been criticized for its seemingly inadequate assistance – a mere $700 one-time direct aid to households forced to evacuate.
Critics Slam Insufficient Relief for Hawaiian Disaster Victims
Critics argue that such an amount pales in comparison to the losses, especially for residents of Hawaiian towns that now lie in ruins. The promised “immediate needs” relief seems like a drop in the ocean for families facing the challenge of rebuilding their homes and lives.
Yet, these weren’t the only missteps during Biden’s Hawaiian visit. The President’s speech in Lahaina, filled with name blunders and awkward pauses, became immediate fodder for critics – once again raising questions about his mental state.
In a significant misstep, Biden referred to Sen. Brian Schatz as “Brian Schantz,” which, while seemingly minor, underscored a trend.
The next mistake was even more pronounced as he bumbled through a confusingly inane personal anecdote while addressing Senator Mazie Hirono.
Raising Eyebrows in the Crowd
“Senator Mazie Hir… By the way, Mazie, I told my granddaughter, whose name is Maisy as well – she said, ‘That’s why I like her.’ Anyway. But her name is Maisy as well,” the President said, raising eyebrows in the crowd.
However, the gaffes didn’t end there. Biden’s pronunciation struggles continued as he attempted to name one of Hawaii’s Democratic representatives, “And, and Jill… er… To.. Tokuda,” further cementing the narrative of his lapses during the visit.
News outlets, media platforms, and social media users latched onto these errors. While some described these fumbles as “embarrassing” and “disgusting,” others found humor in the situation.
“Joe Biden having a laugh about Mazie Hirono’s name. Then, he struggles to pronounce the name of a Hawaiian official. It’s pretty clear why they didn’t want Joe to go out there. He’s a mess,” posted Citizen Free Press, a news aggregator.
A Poorly Chosen Point of Empathy
In an attempt to find a shared ground of empathy with the affected families, Biden recounted a personal experience – a kitchen fire at his Delaware home back in 2004.
Unfortunately, his tale of a narrowly averted disaster, which involved a lightning strike, firefighters, his wife, a Corvette, and his cat, ended up contrasting sharply with the magnitude of devastation in Hawaii.
While drawing parallels between personal experiences and the experiences of the affected can be a way for leaders to establish a connection, this comparison was widely seen as tone-deaf – especially since a 2004 local report indicated that the fire at Biden’s residence was minor and contained promptly.
The backlash online was swift and brutal. One Twitter user said, “People have lost everything, children are missing, embers still burning, and this narcissist makes the tragedy about himself. Just repulsive.”
A Swift Exit
Amidst the series of missteps, the cherry on top was Biden’s quick exit – mere hours after his arrival, rushing back to his Lake Tahoe vacation.
Jake Schneider, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, expressed the collective sentiment in a crisp statement: “There’s a reason furious Maui residents lined the road with signs accusing Biden of being “too late” – because he was.”
President Biden’s Hawaiian trip, intended as a gesture of support, was overshadowed by mounting criticisms and notable missteps. While the intent might have been to convey solidarity, critics think the delivery left much room for improvement.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Muhammad Aamir Sumsum. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: Washington Examiner