While President Obama wrestles with counter-terrorism strategy, gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden has recently stayed out of the limelight. This morning, however, he broke his silence to trot out a tried and true topic: trains. The debate on rail travel in America hasn't changed much since the Wire last covered it in August, but the vice president or someone in his office is tending the flame.
Co-published as the cover story of Amtrak's magazine Arrive and in The Huffington Post, Biden recalls that "one of the Capitol Hill newspapers estimated that I've taken more than 7,000 round trips on Amtrak over the course of my career." Reflecting on his daily commutes, he waxes nostalgic. Between the lyrical beginning and end ("And I saw our future the same way I always did: looking out Amtrak's windows."), Biden get down to business:
My support for rail travel goes beyond the emotional connection. With delays at our airports and congestion on our roads becoming increasingly ubiquitous, volatile fuel prices, increased environmental awareness, and a need for transportation links between growing communities, rail travel is more important to America than ever before.
Support for Amtrak must be strong--not because it is a cherished American institution, which it is--but because it is a powerful and indispensable way to carry us all into a leaner, cleaner, greener 21st century.
A few train fans are applauding, but most readers are simply amused.
- 'Our Esteemed Vice-President is Talking Trains Again' "As a VRE commuter," begins Charlie Spiering at The Washington Examiner, looking at the vice president's assertion that he could "hear [the] questions, feel [the] pain" of citizens inhabiting the houses he passed on his commute, "I love trains as much as the next person, but I've never been able to hear private family conversations from the train." Then again, he notes, "Amtrack trains have always been a spiritual event for Sen. Biden, maybe that's why he promotes dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into the system when in some cases it would be cheaper for Amtrak to buy their passengers free tickets than to transport them on the trains."
- The Romance of Biden and Amtrak "Amtrak's favorite politican extols the glory of trains," tweets PolicyLink. "What a surprise!" adds ChrisZeilinger. Davidconnel aptly names the piece "Joe Biden's love letter to Amtrak."
- Fair Enough Sure, "it's a little misty-eyed in moments," says Good's Siobhan O'Connor, and as "politicians always do," Biden turns "personal anecdotes into a Larger Point ... In this case, a defense of the world's worst train system." But "it's a nice read, and hopefully can help put some more muscle behind supporting our terrible train system (and eventually making it great)."