Don’t call us, we’ll call you

Mexico offered to help with the response to Harvey, and Trump’s administration responded with “We’ll call you if we need you.” Apparently that’s where it remains: Mexico offered help and the administration didn’t accept it.

They helped with Katrina, and Bush wasn’t such a shit that he said no thank you.

The U.S. government and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to Katrina was widely criticized, but Americans came together to offer housing, clothing, meals and monetary help to the affected. President George W. Bush even accepted a huge offer of aid from Mexico.

The aid Mexico sent was no small thing — it was an extraordinary gesture, and it may have saved many lives. Marking the first time that Mexican troops had set foot on U.S. soil since the Mexican-American War in 1846, President Vicente Fox sent an army convoy and a naval vessel laden with food, water and medicine. By the end of their three-week operation in Louisiana and Mississippi, the Mexicans had served 170,000 meals, helped distribute more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted more than 500 medical consultations.

On Sunday, as Harvey was drowning Houston and environs, Trump was busy tweeting about The Wall.

Late on Sunday, Mexico’s foreign ministry issued a statement responding to Trump’s tweets, as well as offering assistance, though without any specifics. The statement reiterates the Mexican government’s long-held position that it will not pay for a border wall “under any circumstances,” and that drug trafficking and related crime are a “shared problem.”

Then it moves on to Harvey. “The Mexican government takes this opportunity to express its full solidarity with the people and government of the United States for the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and express that we have offered the US government help and cooperation to be provided by different Mexican government agencies to deal with the impacts of this natural disaster — as good neighbors should always do in difficult times.”

Did Trump put the needs of people in Texas ahead of his own stupid fight-picking with Mexico? Of course he didn’t.

The offer would put Trump in a bind. Should he accept the generosity, which, to some of his supporters, might ring of hypocrisy and weakness? Or should he deny it, while Texans cope with a nightmare?

For now, the U.S. government is deferring that decision, essentially saying, “If we need you, we’ll call.”

In a statement emailed to The Washington Post late Sunday, a State Department spokesman said, “It is common during hurricanes and other significant weather events for the U.S. Government to be in close contact with our neighbors and partners in the region to share data and cooperate as needed and appropriate. If a need for assistance does arise, we will work with our partners, including Mexico, to determine the best way forward.”

As if the need for assistance were some distant contingency as opposed to what was happening right then.

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