President Trump's response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas this week has already drawn both praise and criticism as he attempts to avoid the pitfalls of past presidents and fulfill the nearly impossible demands following a natural disaster of such magnitude.
The president and first lady journeyed to Southeast Texas on Tuesday to speak directly with first responders and emergency managers at the local, state and federal level. Trump even climbed the side of a fire truck in Corpus Christi and brandished the Texas state flag as he praised the resilience of the hurricane's victims.
But his fleeting mention of the size of the crowd that had gathered outside the fire station, where he had been meeting with state officials, soon dominated headlines about an otherwise smooth trip. And the shoes his wife wore to board Air Force One that morning -- a pair of stilettos she quickly ditched for more practical sneakers -- garnered far more attention on social media than the substance of Trump's Texas tour.
"There are always going to be some Democrats trying to score political points on Trump no matter what the situation. If Trump built an ark to save the people of Houston, Democrats would say he cut down too many trees to build it," said Ned Ryun, CEO of American Majority and a former writer for President George W. Bush.
"But when [Texas] Governor [Greg] Abbott gives the Trump administration an A+ for the response so far, it's clear the Trump administration was prepared for this," Ryun added.
Indeed, Abbott, the Republican governor who met extensively with Trump on Tuesday in Texas, said Sunday that his state has been "getting absolutely everything we need" from the Trump administration in the immediate aftermath of Harvey.
Trump has made a point of keeping his focus on the hurricane response, sending a flurry of tweets about the disaster over the weekend and sharing photographs of himself participating in a video teleconference with members of his Cabinet as they coordinated their relief efforts.
He has also drawn criticism for his pursuit of other political objectives during the storm, such as his decision to offer former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio a controversial pardon last week and his citation on Monday of the "ratings" the hurricane had generated as the reason for pardoning Arpaio on a Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Harvey has already claimed more than a dozen victims, displaced thousands of families and inflicted billions of dollars of damage in Southeast Texas. And the record-breaking rainfall may continue for several more days as the storm slowly drifts toward Louisiana, deepening the already devastating floods that have swept through the Houston area.
Joseph Uscinski, a political science professor at the University of Miami, said Trump's handling of the Harvey disaster is unlikely to change anyone's minds about him.
"People's opinions are going to be largely driven by what they already believe about Trump, and what they believe about Trump is largely driven by their partisanship," Uscinski said.
Many voters will likely regard the administration's response to Harvey as inadequate no matter what given the scale of destruction the storm will ultimately cause, Uscinski argued.
"Houston gets flooded with five feet of water. What do you think the government can really do? I mean, our expectations are too high," he said. "People like to blame other people, they don't like to blame natural occurrences. People will point their finger and blame whoever they already don't like."
Hurricane Harvey has already drawn parallels to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which tore through New Orleans in 2005 and left more than 1,800 people dead. Then-President George W. Bush weathered fierce criticism for his slow response to and perceived detachment from the disaster, and his presidency never fully recovered from the setback.
Notably, Bush flew over the damaged sections of New Orleans immediately after the storm but did not land there, a mistake Trump avoided by traveling to Texas on Tuesday and announcing a planned return to the area on Saturday.
Lawmakers have already begun to discuss the need to approve more federal funding for relief and recovery efforts in Texas, a debate that has reignited a partisan dispute over why some Republicans opposed a 2012 bill that funded relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy.
Republicans at the time argued the Sandy bill was padded with funding for projects that had nothing to do with the storm, while Democrats suggested the opposition was simply a Republican attempt to extract spending cuts from Congress.
Ryun said Trump should learn lessons from Sandy and avoid a similarly messy legislative battle over Harvey funding.
"Looking forward, Trump is going to have to demand a clean Harvey relief bill from Congress, and not a re-run of the pork-laden Sandy bill," Ryun said. "He needs to call out the GOP establishment, who from all appearances seem to be more interested in their pet projects than the people of Houston."
Trump declined on Monday to walk back his support for a possible government shutdown next month should Republicans fail to secure money for his border wall before funding for the federal government dries up. Although he expressed a desire to see a shutdown avoided, his refusal to take the option off the table has raised the stakes for negotiations that Harvey will make more difficult.
The president's critics could use the urgency of Houston's need for disaster assistance to prevent his supporters from pushing too hard for their preferred appropriations.
Recovery and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Harvey could last for years and require resources from nearly all corners of the administration.
Even so, Uscinski said the damage from the storm will go beyond the government's ability to offer satisfying solutions.
"The government can help, but if you're expecting, somehow, the effect of something this massive to be mitigated by a government response -- it just doesn't work that way," Uscinski said. "I mean, these are biblical-type occurrences. We have to temper our expectations."