"A lie," Mark Twain once said, "can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
In this case, it only had to travel from Puerto Rico, from the mouths of Democratic lawmakers and from the Democratic-compliant national media.
The lie? United States aid to the Caribbean island hasn't arrived as fast as it should after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria because — pick your favorite whopper — President Trump doesn't care about the people there, assistance is bogged down in Trump-bred inefficiency and bureaucracy, or Trump is a racist.
We prefer the truth emerge from those on the ground on the island, and it has begun to get out, but the president's thin skin required him to unleash a tweetstorm about the criticism.
"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," he said on Twitter.
There was more.
"Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help," he said. "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job."
Not surprisingly, Trump received little to no praise for the apparently seamless way assistance flowed to Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, respectively. Though his tweets about the U.S. territory had a lot of truth in them, we'd just as soon the real story were told from those there. And there is truth to be told.
"The president and the administration, every time we've asked them to execute, they've executed quickly," Gov. Richard Rosselló said.
"We are receiving a lot of help from FEMA and the Red Cross ... there's lots of help coming in," said Angel Perez Otero, mayor of a city neighboring San Juan.
An international engineering firm that sent 50 engineers to help, dispatched them to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rather than local officials, its chief executive officer said in a New York Post editorial, because "for the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don't see it functioning in a crisis like this one."
Before the hurricane hit, Jorge Rodriguez added, "water and power systems were already broken. And [the island's] $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement."
"I'm really tired of Puerto Rican government officials blaming the federal government for their woes and for not acting fast enough to help people on the island," he said. "Last week I had three federal agents in my office and I was so embarrassed; I went out of my way to apologize to them for the attitude of my government and what they have been saying about the U.S. response."
American people understand the scenario by now. If there's an issue to exploit, it will be exploited in an effort to make Trump look bad.
But that still doesn't make it right.