JOE BIDEN: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.
That needs to be Joe Biden’s marketing campaign bumper sticker as he prepares to go to East Palestine, Ohio.
The belated go to by the President comes one yr after a Norfolk Southern practice derailment saturated the city’s air, water and soil with 700,000 kilos of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen.
Fires broke out and created large bomb-like plumes of black poisonous smoke over the small city, inhabitants 5,000, that sits on the border with Pennsylvania.
Fearful residents of the city are nonetheless coping with well being, environmental and financial challenges from the catastrophe.
Biden, who promised to go to the city shortly after the Feb. 3, 2023 catastrophe, got here underneath sharp criticism for failing to take action.
Critics stated that the rationale Biden didn’t go to was as a result of the area was thought-about working class Donald Trump MAGA (Make America Great Again) nation.
Biden a number of months earlier, in a darkish and controversial speech, referred to as Trump’s MAGA supporters—who make up half the nation, together with East Palestine– “‘extremists” and “semi-fascists” who had been out to destroy democracy.”
That little question got here as information to the patriotic conservatives of East Palestine, because it did to Trump supporters elsewhere.
And whereas Biden stayed away from East Palestine, Donald Trump didn’t.
The former president was on the scene two weeks after the catastrophe, bringing with him pallets of bottled water and MAGA hats. He met with native officers, firefighters, cops and residents, contrasting himself to the absent Joe Biden.
“You are not forgotten,” Trump advised the East Palestinians. “We stand with you. We pray for you. And we’ll stand with you and your struggle to make sure the accountability that you just deserve.
“The community has shown the tough and resilient heart of America. And that’s what it is. This is really America right here. We’re standing in America.”
Biden on the time of Trump’s go to was in Poland en path to Ukraine by practice to satisfy in Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The photograph op in Kiev with Zelenskyy beat something he might have gotten in East Palestine.
But it irked East Palestinians. Mayor Trent Conway, a Republican, stated, “That was the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now he doesn’t care for us. I found that out this morning in one of the briefings that he was in Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there and not to us and I’m furious.”
Asked final week what he considered Biden’s plans to lastly go to East Palestine someday in February, the nonplussed Conway stated, “The best time for him to come would be February of 2025 when he is on his book tour.”
He added, “That being said, I don’t know what he would do here now.”
One factor he might do is shore up assist for Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown, who’s up for re-election and faces stiff Republican opposition.
Another factor Biden might do is approve the state’s request for a federal catastrophe declaration, thereby permitting the state to obtain extra federal assets over and above the help it has already obtained.
That apart, it’s curious why Biden would conform to make the go to now when many of the nation—however not the folks of East Palestine, after all, —have forgotten concerning the catastrophe.
Yes, it’s an election yr and Biden is behind Trump within the public opinion polls, so a well-orchestrated go to to the nonetheless stricken neighborhood would possibly assist, even when it took Biden a yr to return round and make the go to.
It is inevitable that marketing campaign watchers will evaluate Biden’s reception, which is anticipated to be cool, to the nice and cozy and pleasant reception granted Trump a yr in the past.
They bear in mind how Biden snubbed them of their hour of want whereas Trump confirmed up.
And whereas Trump might have solely introduced water, the way in which he was obtained you may need thought it was wine.
Now Biden is taking part in catch-up
Joe Biden: Better late than by no means.
Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.