At what point does the White House decide to play the adult in its absurd feud with Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico? Judging by Thursday's press briefing, not anytime soon.
Reporter April Ryan had tried to ask White House Press Secretary and That Woman in Your Book Club Who Only Wants to Read Nicholas Sparks Novels Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the shirt reading “NASTY” that Cruz was spotted wearing on TV on Wednesday.
Ryan suggested that the appearance stemmed from Trump's trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday being “controversial,” which set Huckabee Sanders off:
"Actually it wasn’t controversial.
It was widely praised, even by a Democrat governor. I think that it is sad that the mayor of San Juan chose to make that a political statement instead of a time of focusing on the relief efforts. The president invited her to be part of that conversation. He specifically asked in the meeting where many were present, including a couple dozen other mayors who were very happy with the recovery efforts.
The governor, the Congresswoman ... He opened the floor up for discussion and she actually made zero comments. To me, that would have been the time and the place that she should have weighed in and asked for what she needed and laid out what she was asking for, for San Juan.
She didn’t. Instead, she chose to wait until the president left and then criticize him on TV, which I think is the wrong thing for her to do for her constituents. I hope next time she’s given the opportunity to help her constituents, she’ll take it."
Cruz did, in fact, try to talk to Trump at the meeting. While shaking his hand, she told him that her pushing for more aid for her people had nothing to do with politics. His response was to ignore her and turn to talk to someone else.
Then, on his way out of town, Trump paused for an interview with Geraldo Rivera. In it, the president disparaged the mayor, accusing her of being “nasty” to him simply for the purpose of building her political credibility ahead of the 2020 election for governor, for which she may or may not be a candidate.
That interview aired on Fox News on Tuesday night. It does not seem that difficult to then understand why Cruz wore a T-shirt with the word “NASTY” emblazoned across the front on Wednesday while harshly criticizing Trump's treating his visit as a jolly good time to show off his foul shot.
By now it should be clear to everyone. If you want anything from this White House, you must shower Donald Trump with praise. If you do not, he will abrogate his responsibilities as president out of sheer spite. It's a message that is carried forth by public representatives of the administration like Sanders and Kellyanne Conway.
When we talk about the president's bully pulpit, bullying individuals begging for help from disaster zones for not showing enough fealty to Donald Trump is not what we mean. Or it didn't used to be.
Watch the video below.