By skipping Ohio to visit Kiev, Biden handed Trump a massive political win
It’s been weeks since the Ohio train derailment that took place on February 3rd, triggering the evacuation of the town of East Palestine and creating an environmental disaster. The situation has been met with virtual radio silence from Democrats. US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg didn’t publicly address the issue until February 14th while a week later President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev, on February 20th, to ramp up support for Ukraine’s war effort, announcing $500 million in new military aid to the country.
While the ruling Democratic Party is outright ignoring the derailment, contaminated water, air, and soil, they are continuing to give money and weapons hand over fist to the Ukrainian government. This has provided an opportunity for the Republican Party to paint themselves as heroes to the average American. Former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that he will visit the devastated town on February 22nd.
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway called Biden’s Ukraine trip the “biggest slap in the face.” He told Fox News that this “tells you right now, he doesn’t care about us.” He added that Biden “can send every agency he wants to but I found out this morning in one of the briefings that he was in the Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us and I’m furious.”
Meanwhile, state and federal officials of both parties have assured locals that all is well and that the water in the town is safe. However, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed the water safe to drink based on only a few tainted lab samples provided by Norfolk Southern, the rail company responsible for the catastrophe. Apparently, the EPA never tested the water samples itself.
According to reports, the rail company plans to create a $1 million fund for the residents of East Palestine, which, as commentators have pointed out, is far below the $4 billion it spent on stock buybacks last year. In all, that amounts to about $200 a pop for the town’s nearly 5,000 residents. Apparently, that’s all the company thinks it should pay forward over this environmental disaster.
The cherry on top is that Norfolk Southern is reportedly asking the nation’s Supreme Court to kill a lawsuit by a sick rail worker and help the firm block future lawsuits against itself over the incident. The Biden administration is now siding with the company, as it did in December when it pushed a “skinny deal" on railway workers across the country who were threatening to strike over pay and working condition concerns.
Furthermore, if Secretary Buttigieg, the guy in charge of regulating the railway industry, was asked what the big deal is about, he’d tell you, “While this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing." The DoT is being heavily criticized for not reinstating an Obama-era rail safety rule to implement new braking systems since the country’s railways still use Civil War-era technology. The Trump administration repealed this mandate and the Biden administration did not put it back on the books. So, whatever, just get used to it.
The story of what happened in Ohio is truly a tale of unbridled corporate greed coupled with politicians unwilling to regulate the railway industry because of the powerful interests in Washington that prop it up. It transcends party lines. Both Republicans and Democrats are at fault for failing to regulate railways and spewing the company’s propaganda after the incident on February 3rd, even defaulting to their in-house water tests. The corruption on display truly boggles the mind.
Oddly, all Biden had to do was show up to at least display the slightest amount of empathy required to “win” the ensuing political battle. Literally, to just physically be at the site of the incident, shake hands, kiss babies and give a speech where he promises to help those affected. But, instead of doing the absolute bare minimum, he flies halfway across the world to Ukraine and pledges half a billion dollars, on top of the billions already given, for a war that has nothing to do with the interests of average Americans.
Biden just gave a healthy serving of political points to Donald Trump on a silver platter. Doubtless, Trump will point out Biden’s hypocrisy, lack of interest or care and perhaps even his relentless pro-war agenda. It will be a speech that many independents might find appealing and it will certainly tap into the angst of the white midwestern American working class, which is, to note, an essential demographic for anyone who wants to become President of the United States.
The Biden administration's failure on this issue is immense. It is not just that he materially failed to safeguard Americans’ well-being, but he also made Trump, whose former presidential administration was an absolute calamity for the working class, the winner in all of this. It is hard to find an explanation for how someone with 52 years of political experience could so massively screw this up.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.