“Never let a crisis go to waste,” as Chicago mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said. In MSNBC’s case, you could add “tragedy” to the list of events that should be exploited for all their maximum political value.
In an awful tragedy, one particularly acute for New York City and Washington D.C. residents, an Amtrak train derailed on Tuesday night resulting in over 140 injuries and at least seven deaths. The bodies were still being collected when the hosts and guests of MSNBC’s Morning Joe appeared convinced that this tragedy could have been averted had the Congress passed massive spending measures aimed at repairing what Barack Obama contends is America’s “crumbling infrastructure.”
In a compelling post, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg unloaded on the unfounded self-assuredness and the factually inaccurate assertions that characterized this segment. What’s more, he addressed the hideously ghoulish desire displayed this morning by these media figures to advance a political agenda on the heels of a bloody tragedy.
There’s this obsession, particularly on the East Coast, with moving lots of Americans around by train. The sophisticated Europeans do that, we should too. There’s so much know-nothingism at work here. In America we move stuff (i.e. freight) by rail and people by road (and plane). In Europe they do it the other way around. America’s freight rail system is the best in the world (which is why Warren Buffett keeps investing in it). The reasons for this arrangement have to do with population density, geography, etc. I’m not saying our passenger rail system couldn’t be better, particularly in the Northeast. But this idea that we’re falling behind China on infrastructure is ridiculous. Just because the Morning Joe crowd doesn’t care about our see the freight rail system, doesn’t mean we should obviously blow it up to turn it into a passenger rail system.
Goldberg’s post dismantled the pathology that compels partisans to insist that their pet cause would have prevented a heartbreaking disaster, even before an investigation into the incident has been conducted. These MSNBC personalities might have spared themselves quite a bit of embarrassment if they had checked NBC News’ website before launching into a diatribe loaded with familiar Democratic talking points. A source told NBC’s reporters on Wednesday morning that excessive speed, not America’s dated railway network, is most likely to blame for this tragedy.
The macabre instinct to politicize an ongoing tragedy has become a pattern for MSNBC hosts. In December of 2012, even while helicopters hovered over Sandy Hook Elementary School and ambulances raced to the scene of that horrible massacre, MSNBC host Alex Wagner consoled herself by noting that “hopefully” the shooting would provide Democrats with the “political capital” they need to pass new laws restricting gun ownership.
“Let’s talk about this idea of politicizing a tragedy,” she said of the exploitation of the Sandy Hook shootings a few months later. “Because, I see this and I think, this is a reminder of what we’re talking about in the same way that showing pictures of oil-covered birds isn’t exploiting wildlife to talk about energy reform. Nor is talking about the death count in Afghanistan exploiting a tragedy to talk about what we’re doing overseas and our foreign policy.”
Only an intellectually capable person could convince themselves that this manner of moral bankruptcy is not only justified but necessary. It takes a truly committed ideologue to sacrifice decency upon the altar of partisanship, but only someone with logical faculties can subordinate their own humanity in service to a political agenda.
“Disgusting,” Goldberg said of today’s segment on Morning Joe. Indeed. Hopefully the families of the dead will understand why they were informed, dubiously, that their loved ones’ deaths might have been prevented. You see, this contention might help Democratic candidates win next November. And that’s what’s really important, right?
Update (AP): I wonder how much we’d need to spend on infrastructure to keep Amtrak conductors from taking a curve at 100 miles per hour.
An Amtrak train involved in a fatal crash here appears to have been traveling at more than 100 miles an hour as it entered a sharp curve where it derailed Tuesday night, killing at least seven people, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.
The speed limit in that section of track drops to 50 miles per hour, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Investigators are focusing on the possibility that excessive speed was a factor in the derailment, one of these people said.