By now, President Donald Trump has endured enough disasters to have developed a sense of how and when to reach out those affected. That solidarity -- along with federal aid -- is the most that disaster victims can really hope for from a president. But Californians affected by one of the worst wildfire seasons in the state's history have not even received as much of a tweet from the commander in chief so far.
On Oct. 15, the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle released an editorial titled "California Burns: Where's the president?" The editors made it clear they felt ignored by the president's lack of response, which they note is especially biting coming from a man who is not "reticent to let Americans know what is foremost on his mind."
Trump did speak briefly about the California fires on Oct. 10, one day after Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown sent him a letter asking for help, ThinkProgress reports.
"These fires have forced thousands of Northern California residents to immediately evacuate their homes and seek temporary shelter in order to save their lives," Brown wrote. "Many residents had little time to flee due to the fires’ rapid and erratic rate of spread through the rural terrain. Tragically, these fires have already taken lives and emergency responders anticipate the number of fatalities could grow."
"I spoke with Governor Brown last night to know that the federal government will stand with people of California and be there with you in this time of terrible tragedy and need," said a statement from the president the next day.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that Trump's comments came just before welcoming the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House.
"That’s it?" the Chronicle editor's questioned. "No talk of visiting California? No expressions of appreciation for the first responders? No condolences for those who lost their lives, or the many more who lost their homes? No recognition or pledges of federal support for the monumental task of rebuilding the neighborhoods and business that were devoured in the fire?"
Since Trump last spoke of the fire, more than 40 people have died and 230 are still missing, according to ThinkProgress.
Vice President Mike Pence wrote a tweet on Oct. 10 in which he praised the firefighters and said the president and he were "standing with" California. He said that citizens would have the affected communities in their "thoughts & prayers in the days ahead."
On Oct. 17, SF Gate compiled a list of every topic the president has tweeted about since the fires broke out on Oct. 8 and 9. The list includes nine tweets about fake news, eight tweets about the Affordable Care Act, four tweets about NFL players who won't stand for the national anthem and one tweet about his formal rival in the presidential election, "Crooked" Hillary Clinton.
SF Gate mentions that Trump spoke about the California wildfires along with other natural disasters at an Oct. 11 interview in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His comments about the fires lasted less than 30 seconds.
The San Francisco Chronicle editors questioned "how much is a Trump pledge worth, anyway?"
"His typically rapid-fire succession of tweets this week included some that seemed to blame Puerto Rico for its post-hurricane financial crisis and a warning that 'We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!'"
They ended the editorial by wondering if the media and the president both had "disaster fatigue."
"The most cynical speculation would be that he could not care less about a state that despises him like no other," the editors wrote. "Devastated California awaits your leadership, Mr. President. Tweet up, if you care."
ThinkProgress reports that the president briefly mentioned the fires again on Oct. 16.
"We mourn the terrible loss of life,” Trump stated. "[It was] very sad to watch how fast, how rapidly they move and how people are caught in their houses."
Trump praised federal firefighting efforts and then moved to another subject.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate, ThinkProgress / Featured Images: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr / Embedded Images: BLM/Wikimedia Commons, Airman 1st Class Alex Echols/U.S. Air Force/Tyndall Air Force Base