Issues & Insights

Amtrak Joe Couldn’t Be Bothered To Visit A Train Wreck

A freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, three weeks ago. Residents were ordered to evacuate and the cargo of toxic chemicals from five tanker cars was eventually released and set on fire. So far, Joe Biden hasn’t visited the scene, as is tradition for presidents when large-scale disasters strike. Instead, Biden officials have blamed Donald Trump, who hasn’t been president in more than two years, for the wreck. But even some media outlets are admitting it wasn’t his fault.

Official word from the White House accuses “congressional Republicans and former Trump administration officials” for selling out “to rail industry lobbyists when they dismantled the Obama-Biden rail safety protections as well as EPA powers to rapidly contain spills.” The administration believes Trump, who beat Biden Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (who is utterly useless) to the site, and GOP lawmakers, owe “East Palestine an apology.” 

“Congressional Republicans laid the groundwork for the Trump administration to tear up requirements for more effective train brakes,” Andrew Bates, a deputy White House press secretary, ranted on Wednesday, “and last year most House Republicans wanted to defund our ability to protect drinking water.”

That last point must really eat at the White House. Bates issued the statement on the same day Trump showed up with 13 pallets of bottled water, nine of which he donated (and delivered by two moving companies based in Red States), for the East Palestine residents who are understandably fearful of their water supply. Seems the former president was doing the work of the federal agency that has “emergency management” in its name but had not arrived in the city until this past weekend.

While the Biden administration is in full blame-Trump mode, it’s not yet clear why the Norfolk Southern train derailed. One National Transportation Safety Board has said that video of the wreck suggests that “mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles” are a possibility. Another report refers to “an overheated axle.” We’ve seen, as well, a report that a wheel bearing overheated and failed.

Of course there are journalists who are following the administration’s cue to hold Trump and the GOP responsible for the derailment. They believe it’s their job to protect and serve the Democratic Party. But there some out there who are doing honest reporting. One works for USA Today.

“Jennifer Homendy, who chairs the National Transportation Safety Board, said the brake rule would not have prevented the East Palestine derailment because it was proposed for ‘high-hazard flammable’ trains carrying 20 or more loaded tank cars. The train that derailed did not meet that threshold,” writes USA Today’s Joey Garrison.

Forbes, The Hill and even Newsweek also referred to Homendy’s statement.

Other media have covered the possibility that there might be a criminal referral in the matter – not against Trump but against Norfolk Southern, depending on the outcome of an investigation.

Taking a broad swipe at Trump as a substitute for, or diversion from, its apparent indifference to what happened in a community that heavily voted for Trump is both distasteful and expected from an administration from the party that is determined to split this country. Federal attention arrived only when it was demanded by politics. Otherwise, the people of East Palestine were just as good as canceled.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Denying and evading problems. Telling lies. Blaming others. Yes, indeed;”adults” are back in charge.

  • Actually Biden did visit a train wreck, the Ukraine! It’s starting to remind me of the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s that killed over one million people.

    • You appear to be responding to some other article you read. This editorial on our site says nothing about blaming Biden, but is responding to the Biden administration’s ridiculous attempt to blame Trump.

      • Would you feel better if he threw paper towels at the people? Let’s see who supports more train safety regulations and who fights against them.

  • Great use of the photo of Leland Stanford’s locomotive departing from the Stanford Museum during the San Andres earthquake of 1906.

  • While Biden the Blunder still wants to ban Gas Stoves over over the use of Junk Science and Politics its just about what they the Democrats are always doing and will the Eco_Freaks still support him over his support of Coastal Wind Turbines?

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