AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
As President Joe Biden returned from his surprise tour of Eastern Europe on Wednesday, former President Donald Trump was on his way to East Palestine, Ohio, to meet with residents of the small blue-collar community that was devastated by one of the country’s worst environmental disasters in decades earlier this month. The contrast between the travel plans of the 45th and 46th presidents this week perfectly captured the stark differences in their leadership priorities – and provided yet another damning indictment of Biden’s presidency.
“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war,” Biden said during his time in Kyiv. But with more than $110 billion in aid already committed to Ukraine since the start of the conflict (nearly twice Russia’s entire annual military budget) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy receiving a hero’s welcome at the White House and a fawning reception by Congress last year, one might be forgiven for wondering just who Biden thought he needed to convince.
To the contrary, at a time when he is facing mounting concerns, including from many within the Democrat Party, that he is mentally and physically unfit for office, President Biden should be more concerned about convincing ordinary Americans that he cares about them. Many believe Biden’s trip to Kiev revealed a callous president who is far more interested in showing solidarity with Ukrainians than Americans.
While Biden found time to participate in an intricate covert operation that involved a 10-hour train ride under the cover of darkness to visit Ukraine, he has so far failed to make the one-hour flight from Washington, D.C., to northeast Ohio, where a train derailment earlier this month sent toxic chemicals spilling into the air and waterways. East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway called it a “slap in the face” that Biden was “in the Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there” while people in his community suffered. “That tells you right now he doesn’t care about us,” Conaway said.
Visiting East Palestine soon after the disaster should have been a no-brainer for Biden, someone who has long sought to brand himself as a “unifier.” Presidents routinely travel to disaster areas to boost morale and draw media attention to Americans in need, and they typically earn bipartisan praise as a result.
But Biden hadn’t even dispatched his hapless Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, to the site of the crash. Both Buttigieg and Biden failed to even comment on the environmental catastrophe for nearly a week, and the White House rejected requests for emergency funding from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. When confronted by a reporter on the streets of D.C. about his failure to go to Ohio, Buttigieg refused to answer, saying he was taking “personal time” and that the reporter should watch interviews he had given earlier in the day.
Instead, it was former President Trump who traveled to Ohio to meet with people affected by the disaster on Wednesday. Hours ahead of his arrival, truckloads of food and bottled water were distributed to the people of East Palestine – contributions all arranged by Trump. While Biden was in the air on his way back from Poland, Trump was on the ground buying lunch for firefighters and first responders, later saying that his message for Biden was “get over here.” In just a few hours, the 45th president showed more leadership in facing down a crisis than anyone in the Biden administration has in more than two weeks.
On Tuesday, the day before his visit, Trump also released a video slamming what he called the “America Last” approach that has seen Biden and other leaders – including some Republicans – turn their attention abroad while Americans like those in Ohio suffer. “At the end of my next four years, the warmongers, and frauds, and failures in the senior ranks of our government will all be gone, and we will have a new group of competent national security officials who believe in defending America’s vital interests above all else,” Trump promised.
Just hours earlier, Biden had taken the stage in Warsaw, Poland, to offer the exact opposite vision for the future. In a speech full of references to acting in accordance with the interests of a “worldwide coalition” rather than interests of the United States, Biden in effect doubled down on his embrace of a globalist first outlook on world affairs, rather than one that puts American interests first. Biden declared that there “will continue to be hard and very bitter days,” further calling on the “coalition” to “build” a new world.
In an ominous sign, Biden’s remarks in Poland came just before Putin announced that Moscow would end its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the U.S. While promising unity and peace, Biden has failed to achieve either, and in the process has neglected citizens of his own country whom Biden is constitutionally sworn to serve, but whom he continues to ignore. Unfortunately for the American people, it looks like it may take a new leader – or the return of an old one – to change that.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.