Commentary: Another political ploy, another money solution

Even before the death toll was final following the May 12th derailment of Amtrak train 188, crisis jockeys from the left were wracking their progressive brains for some half-baked scheme to focus blame for the tragedy on Republicans. Now we can rest assured that Rahm Emanuel’s wacky advice that a crisis should never be wasted did in fact make the progressive play book.

Without so much as a whisper of assurance, champions of the liberal cause cited Republicans for causing the tragic derailment of train 188, which killed eight and injured over 200 passengers. Their argument: Republicans failed to pass funding for railroad infrastructure improvements which could have prevented this derailment. They were so focused on gaining political traction with the pork ploy that they didn’t even wait for the results of the initial investigation.

During my 27-year railroad career, I was involved with the investigative process for hundreds of train derailments, some on mainline tracks, some on spur tracks, siding tracks, team tracks and some within train yard limits. Aside from learning never to jump to conclusions, I also learned that when the traction unit — the locomotive — leaves the rail on the high side of a curve or turnout, then chances are the derailment was caused by excessive speed. Rail test cars monitor track conditions on a regular schedule to avoid track-related derailments.

According to the locomotive event recorder, the train speed was 106 mph just prior to entering the curve at Frankford Junction, more than twice the 50 mph speed limit for the Frankford curve. The Federal Railroad Administration reported that the infrastructure including the roadbed, the ballast, the rails and rail joints, crossties signals and switches were all in good order.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman reports the derailment was the first for Amtrak in the entire northeast corridor in 28 years, during which time 300 million passengers had ridden its rails. This certainly doesn’t suggest an infrastructure problem.

Surely, some of the $831 billion stimulus bill of 2009 could have been used to address infrastructure upgrades for both freight and commuter line railroads six years ago when both houses of Congress were under Democratic control. Could it be that Democrats were busy with some other priority at the time, like the train wreck that became Obamacare?

This derailment was about speed, not railroad infrastructure. The reference to infrastructure was only a link to associate this tragedy with the Republican Party, a knee-jerk reaction to a tragic event designed to diminish Republicans and make funding the issue. For lack of an appropriate code word, they fashioned a scheme meant to belittle Republicans in the eyes of low information voters. It’s a prime example of how liberals roll. If code words like racist and bigot and sexist don’t fit the task, they dream up a scheme, whether or not it holds water. Then they enlist the mainstream news media to back them up. What a pathetic failed attempt to manipulate the truth, and to think, the news media will hush the lie until it fades and is forgotten.

May the next American president have the leadership and the will to unite this country and place the focus on honesty and prosperity.

Leroy Donald is a Stephens City resident.

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