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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Forgotten (East) Palestinians

Seems like President Biden is saying, from faraway Ukraine, 'Petey, you're doing a heck of a job' caring for US victims of toxic train derailment
Screen Shot 2023-02-23 at 12.46.07 PM

Back in 2016, I was living in Baton Rouge when an unprecedented flood submerged much of the metropolitan area and its suburbs. Presidential candidate Donald Trump flew to the area, visited the suffering, and handed out water. That same weekend, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went to Martha's Vineyard for a $50,000 a plate campaign fundraiser at Lady Rothschild's place. You see how that turned out for her.

Yesterday Trump went to East Palestine, Ohio, site of the massive toxic train derailment. Salena Zito was in town reporting for The Free Press. Excerpt:

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But while Trump and Vance and Gabbard are all showing up, the actual people running this country have been missing in action. It took until February 16—nearly a full two weeks after the crash—for the first top Biden official, EPA administrator Michael Regan, to be on the scene. Meanwhile, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg—who has one job, overseeing the infrastructure of this country—has not yet witnessed the catastrophe in person nor did he acknowledge it until February 13, though he is scheduled to arrive today. President Joe Biden released a fact sheet about the accident and tweeted about it, but he hasn’t given a speech about it, let alone visited the town. In fact, on Monday, he was 5,000 miles away in Kyiv, meeting with the president of Ukraine and pledging more aid in the war against Russia. 

That the president ignored East Palestine and chose to make a big splash in a foreign country symbolizes what matters most to the White House, the town’s mayor Trent Conaway said.

“That was the biggest slap in the face,” Conaway fumed on Fox. “That tells you right now he doesn’t care about us. He can send every agency he wants to, but I found out this morning that he was in Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there and not to us… on President’s Day in our country, so I’m furious.”

The optics are very bad. Maybe Biden will be caught on camera saying to his Transportation Secretary, "Petey, you're doing a heck of a job." That throwback would be just perfect.

Watch this clip of Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance at a creek near East Palestine. Watch the chemicals bloom in the water when he scratches the creek bed:

This catastrophe in Ohio offers Vance a chance to tack differently than how Republicans usually do. He can, and I hope he does, tear into the rail industry over safety concerns -- and if that means going against some in his own party, so be it. Put the people of East Palestine above the profits of those in boardrooms. J.D. Vance, the hillbilly elegiast, was elected to stand for people like the working-class folks of East Palestine. His moment is now.

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Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Mayor Pete chose to take pictures of those confronting him rather than answer their hostile questions. A perverted pothole politics, following Saul Alinsky, to make politics personal, instead of engaging the issue.
schedule 7 months ago
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    Every time I post something on my own bat it awaits moderation and I can't see it if I'm logged out. But, as you see, not so when I respond.

    Was it something I said?

    Can somebody fix this?
    schedule 7 months ago
      Chris Karr
      Chris Karr
      I've triggered the moderation feature by including more than one link in a comment.
      schedule 7 months ago
        Theodore Iacobuzio
        Theodore Iacobuzio
        That's it then. How do I get out?
        schedule 7 months ago
          Chris Karr
          Chris Karr
          Someone at TAC has to pull you out. Given that the comments don't appear to be read, you're probably better off reposting your comment, and limiting yourself to one link per comment.
          schedule 7 months ago
      Fran Macadam
      Fran Macadam
      Some of the authors don't allow comments to be seen by the general public, only subscribers.
      schedule 7 months ago
Chris Karr
Chris Karr
Over at the Diaspora Discord, we were tracking how long it would take Vance to say something public after the disaster happened. Ohio's senior Senator Sherrod Brown was drawing attention to the crash a full week before J.D. decided he could use this incident in his one-man political kabuki show.

Better late than never, I guess.
schedule 7 months ago
    MPC
    MPC
    By politicizing and shaming on the issue, inevitably more attention is drawn. Pols in charge, in search of good PR, rush in so as not to appear miserly. If you just let career pols manage things themselves, and an entirely pliant media play cover for their "management", you get the sort of management endemic in most parts of the country where people don't have the institutional clout to draw attention to things (including, often enough, rural Ohio).

    If this had happened in a professional upper middle class suburb of NYC forgive my cynicism in thinking that the media would be oh so much more attentive and pols from day one would be sparing no expense. Not like the Very Smart People would be caught living that close to a train, of course.
    schedule 7 months ago
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Oh, yes, the discord where the moderator calls herself an evil queen and bans anyone who criticizes child-rape because it's "against her family."
    schedule 7 months ago
Theodore Iacobuzio
Theodore Iacobuzio
If JD DOESN'T run with this he's not the man I think he is.

Meanwhile, the WSJ is kinda sorta carrying water you should pardon the expression for Norfolk Southern (after all, they're a corporation, right? RIGHT?):

https://www.wsj.com/articles/east-palestine-norfolk-southern-donald-trump-pete-buttigieg-alan-shaw-biden-administration-b62218e9?mod=opinion_lead_pos1
schedule 7 months ago