Amid the unprecedented wildfires that have ravaged the Hawaiian island of Maui over the past fortnight, claiming numerous lives and scorching vast expanses of land, President Joe Biden has taken two separate vacations, adding to his tally of over 365 vacation days during his time in office.
Under mounting pressure, especially following his initial silence on the disaster, Biden curtailed his second vacation at a billionaire’s residence in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and journeyed to Maui on Monday.
The president, who places emphasis on environmental concerns, accompanied by a substantial motorcade of nearly 30 cars, embarked on a five-hour tour of Hawaii. As he passed residents who were clearly disgruntled, he was met with jeers and shouts of “Thanks for nothing!” and “Go home, Joe!”
Reports from Newsweek detailed confrontations between Biden and local residents along the route. Some individuals held signs that expressed strong dissent, including phrases such as “F*** Biden” and “Trump Won.” At Kapalua Airport, where Biden’s plane landed, signs bearing the message “It’s too late” were visible.
During his tour, Biden made light-hearted comments about the ground’s heat and the footwear of a cadaver dog. Subsequently, he addressed the public in Lahaina, near the town’s ancient banyan tree, which withstood the fires’ devastation.
Although he managed to correctly recall the island’s name on this occasion, the 80-year-old president struggled with the proper pronunciation of various Hawaiian officials’ names. He also referred to the disaster as an “unimaginable tragedy.”
Biden continued his interaction with the crowd at the Lahaina Civic Center, drawing a parallel between the catastrophic inferno, which reportedly claimed the lives of over 480 individuals, and his own personal experience of nearly losing his beloved 1967 Corvette due to a kitchen fire.
“While I don’t want to equate hardships, Jill and I do have a slight understanding of what it means to lose a home,” stated Biden. “About 15 years ago, while I was in Washington doing ‘Meet The Press,’ it was a sunny Sunday, and lightning struck our home by a little lake just outside our house – not a lake, actually, but a pond.”
“In short, I nearly lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat,” Biden added.
A restaurateur in Kihei, Maui, characterized Biden’s comparison as “the most despicable thing this president has ever said.” The restaurateur went on to say, “How do you compare almost losing your Corvette to the children burned in their homes? It’s outrageous.”
Kristen Goodwin, a former educator on the island, echoed this sentiment, expressing her disappointment in Biden’s remarks. She stated, “I won’t be voting for him again, that’s for sure. I’ll be voting for Trump. I won’t vote for him again.”