Irony of the Week

Whenever people choose to name landmarks and buildings for people living or deceased, they want to associate themselves with that person to send a message or to teach a lesson.  Evidently, the lesson to be learned from Amtrak’s re-dedication of its Wilmington, Delaware train station for its most famous passenger is that if you want to get somewhere on time … don’t take Amtrak:

Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman had an appointment to keep, and he wasn’t going to let the massive power outage that occurred Saturday on his rail line’s Northeast Corridor stop him.

And, neither were Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo or Amtrak board member Jeff Moreland.

The three were expected at the gala unveiling of the newly re-named “Joe Biden” train station in Wilmington, Delaware Saturday afternoon but they found themselves among the thousands of other Amtrak passengers who were temporarily stranded on trains along the popular Washington, DC to New York route.

So, Boardman, Szabo and Moreland — who heard just hours before that Vice President Biden was slated to make an unscheduled appearance at Saturday’s event — abandoned a stranded Acela Express train at Baltimore’s Penn Station where an awaiting car ferried them to Wilmington.

Yes, in one of the most obvious suck-ups in federal bureaucratic history, the federally funded Amtrak chose to change the name on its building for the current Vice President.  Biden has spent the last two years talking about high-speed rail as the path to put Americans back to work and usher in another age of economic expansion — a push that benefits the perpetually-broke Amtrak by promising years or decades more of federal “investments” in trains that have trouble getting even the CEO to important appointments. In fact, the station got a face lift from Porkulus money managed by Sheriff Joe himself:

As a thank-you to its most famous customer, Amtrak is renaming the train station in Wilmington, Del., after stimulus “sheriff” Vice President Joseph R. Biden — after the project received $20 million in stimulus money and came in $5.7 million over the initial announced budget.

Spokesmen for Mr. Biden, who said he personally fought for stimulus money for Amtrak, didn’t respond to messages Wednesday or Thursday.

Citizens Against Government Waste says the suck-up is legal, if a bit unseemly, but also may be inadvertently appropriate:

Renaming the station is apparently legal — and is fitting in this case, saidLeslie Paige, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste.

“It’s an absolutely perfect monument to a guy whose entire history has been overspending and overpromising,” she said. “It would make sense [Mr. Biden‘s] name would be slapped on a bloated, over-budget train station in Wilmington.”

It’s as fitting as having Amtrak’s CEO and staff get rescued from its own stalled train and chauffeured to the Biden event.

Irony of the Week is an occasional feature.  If you have a suggestion for an Irony of the Week, please e-mail it to [email protected]

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