We really didn’t need this.
Not right in the middle of our shamefully ugly presidential election season. And not right after our humiliating ice storm meltdown.
We were already international laughingstocks. Now Washington gets to endure an unprecedented Metro shutdown.
With little warning, the rail network that spiderwebs beneath the nation’s capital and carries hundreds of thousands of passengers each day announced Tuesday that it would simply close for at least 24 hours.
Good night and good luck getting around. Ride a bike. Or a goat. Or a burro.
Forget Uber. Surge pricing, remember?
Call us Washingtonistan.
Electrical cables. Fire hazards. That’s what the officials said at their astonishing press conference. Okay, okay. Those are scary words.
“While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here,” General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said.
The shutdown was scheduled to begin at midnight. So I guess that means anyone riding home Tuesday evening was flirting with death.
Total, Armageddon-style gridlock happened. But that’s all part of this new Washingtonistan.
We’re the capital of a country edging toward chaos, a foreign correspondent’s dream dispatch.
Let’s put the video clips together of what’s happening in America.
We’ve got the bizarro-looking potentate holding violent rallies in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. People are punched and thrown to the ground. They’re raising their right arms to pledge allegiance to a man who couldn’t keep a steak company solvent.
Get that footage of the brown drinking water coming out of the spigots in Flint, Mich.! And the crates of bottled water being distributed from big trucks.
Oh, now add in some shots of the hopelessly partisan and gridlocked members of the House and Senate, the elected officials who have been refusing to do their jobs for years now. Who needs nine Supreme Court justices anyway?
Now Metro has succumbed to the same forces of dysfunction.
Decades ago, back when D.C. was a murder capital and fiscal basket case, Metro was one of the few things that worked — a modern miracle of efficiency, uniformity and reliability.
But that was a long time ago. Now the city works, and its transit system doesn’t. On Monday there was yet another fire. And now, its electrical wires are so dangerous, officials say they must simply shut down the entire system.
This is what happens when short-sighted leadership is the rule of the day, when the people who are running things can’t imagine planting seedlings to create the tree shade they will never live to enjoy.
WMATA has long operated a system that ignored its long-term budget problems, that refused to acknowledge its deadly wiring and communications problems before they cost lives, that still can’t really explain how those nine people died in a terrible crash in 2009.
Metro used to be better than Congress. At least it ran.
Now it is just another symbol of failure.
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