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Tipsheet

Now That He's Finally Shown Up, Maui Residents Tell Biden How They Really Feel

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

President Joe Biden finally traveled to Maui on Monday, almost two weeks after wildfires killed over 100 people, left 850 people unaccounted for, and cost billions of dollars in property damage. Over the weekend, Sarah covered some responses of Lāhainā residents, including those who didn't want the president to come, with Jay Awan pointing out Biden is "just coming to Maui to look good in front of the cameras." Biden's actual visit was met with some less than welcome responses from Maui residents.

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Reporting from on the ground pointed to how residents had been there "for hours" with Hawaiian flags and signs proclaiming "he's too late," "he should've been here much earlier," and "actions speak louder than words."

Of course it's worth reminding Biden didn't even have any words to say for days about the wildfires. He's been on several vacations, including to Rehoboth Beach and Lake Tahoe, where his spokespeople say he's spending "some valuable, quality family time." He also notoriously told the press "no comment" on several occasions when asked about the fires, even doing so with smirks and silence that continues to this day. 

Despite such a piss poor response, the White House and even Biden himself have been trying to hit people over the head with claims that the administration has done such a fitting job, from the start, and that they're to be commended. Countless statements, fact-sheets and tweets have gone out, but much of it has been too little too late.

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The start of one Twitter thread, from Sunday, wanted users to believe that Biden has been involved "[s]ince the onset of the Maui wildfires."

Another tweet, from earlier on Monday claimed that the administration was working "around the clock." 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hasn't held a briefing in several days, and the briefing she did give last Monday hardly provided anything useful, other than the narrative that the White House expected us to believe that the president was supposedly "committed."

Jean-Pierre not only didn't have information during that press briefing on when Biden would be going to Maui, but she pointed out she "obviously did not have anything to announce" from the podium at the time. 

During a more recent press gaggle, aboard Air Force One on Monday, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton insisted "it's important to remember that the president has been there from day one." It's a view she thinks that residents of Maui need to believe too.

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When a reporter pointed out to how Maui residents have expressed "frustration with the response" from the Biden administration, asking Dalton "how has the president been preparing for what could be a tough reception, when he meets with survivors and first responders today," her answer was to gaslight.

"Look, you've heard from the president directly, he knows these folks and the community have been through something devastating and traumatic," she said in part, adding "it's going to be an emotional day for everyone" as she described some of the interactions Biden would have. As she stumbled for some kind of fitting response, Dalton offered that "the president certainly intends to stand with them and make sure that--that he indicates to them that not only have we been there since day one, has he been there since day one, but as he said yest--just yesterday, he intends for his administration to be there for Maui as long as it takes."

Not only is such a response not exactly articulate or eloquent, it's also a really bad narrative for the White House to keep going with. It's astounding that they expect people to buy such a claim. 

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When it comes to tweeting out the live video of Biden's remarks, the White House claimed it was for the president to "reiterate his Administration's actions to support recovery." Following his remarks, Biden then went to what another tweet described as "a community event." 

As expected, his remarks were full of stumbles and pitfalls, with Biden not only mispronouncing the word "tragedy," but the names of Hawaiian officials as well.

During that "community event," the president said "I don't want to compare difficulties," and then proceeded to do just that, by claiming he lost his house in a fire. In reality, that "small fire" caused by a lightning strike was "contained to the kitchen" and "was under control in 20 minutes." That sounds much different from how the fires raged in Maui, as Hawaiian official M. Kaleo Manuel didn't want to let water be used to put out the flames.

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The actual on the ground handling of the situation isn't any better. Matt, who has been covering the situation at length, including when it comes to Manuel, wrote earlier on Monday how the Marines had yet to be called in to assist. 

Biden is no stranger to failing to act when disaster strikes. The president has yet to go to East Palestine, Ohio, where a train derailed back in early February, over six months ago now. Jean-Pierre still had nothing when asked late last month, other than that "the president intends to go."


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