We're going to state this so plainly that not even President Donald J. Trump could misunderstand it: Just send help.
That was the advice the former governor of Louisiana told The Washington Post when considering Trump's odd statements in response to Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico.
"He should have initially acknowledged (the difficult situation) within a sympathetic context — that we are struggling with you, for you," Kathleen Blanco told The Post on Tuesday. "Just give them that support."
Despite Trump's harsh words for the U.S. island that is cleaning up after the hurricane, the president found exactly that kind of compassion on Monday when Trump struck a pitch-perfect tone while addressing the nation about the Las Vegas massacre.
"Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence," the president said. "We call upon the bonds that unite us: our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity."
It's hard to believe the same leader — just 24 hours later — said Puerto Rico should be proud it hadn't lost more as in a real catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina.
Trump didn't stop there.
"I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack," Trump said.
It's not a contest between communities. New Orleans doesn't boast it's the site of one of the worst hurricanes of all time, and Puerto Rico isn't going to be promoting the destruction on tourist literature anytime soon.
We've commented before — like nearly every other media outlet, including the often vilified Fox News — that Trump's comments continue to be awkward, if not hurtful. We don't believe his rhetoric helps heal a broken country. From a more pragmatic, political approach, we can't see how his words help further his agenda. Instead, they serve as more distraction.
What happened in Puerto Rico was a real catastrophe, just like Katrina. And it seems like more of a miracle that more weren't killed.
We know that during a four-year presidency (maybe eight) that there will sadly be plenty of tragedies and disasters. That means Trump will have more chances to speak what's on his mind.
And so when that happens, we hope that he'll instead just send help.
We who deal in words everyday know the responsibility of using them precisely and correctly. We also know the tremendous good they can do when used to rally a community to help. We also know how incredibly hurtful they can be when used glibly or without care.
If Trump speaks, we hope that it is in front of a teleprompter where his words can be measured and precise, not on Twitter where every impulse can be indulged.
It's not that we would want to curb freedom of speech, not the least from the Commander-in-Chief.
Yet, comments comparing the destruction of Katrina with that recently wrought by Maria seems wholly inappropriate. Though not as many lost their lives in Puerto Rico, people died nonetheless. And many lost everything they had in both disasters. Both are worthy of the support of the entire nation.
Folks in Montana would have been rightfully outraged had the President commented that the firefighting toll was messing with his plans for the federal budget. If the federal government cannot be counted upon to help in disaster relief and rebuilding, what then is its purpose?
We saw the federal government's response during hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and there's no denying that our response to Maria and Puerto Rico has been different and slower. That's too bad because every resident in Texas and Florida is every bit as as American as those in Puerto Rico.
So we'll say it again: Words aren't necessary. Help is.