The Campaign Spot

Was Obama’s Bridge Story a Swing at Pawlenty?

In today’s Morning Jolt, there’s a look at the latest Trump analysis, the president’s irritation with a Dallas reporter, and the rise of SkyNet. (No, really.) But today’s appetizer is the discussion of why Obama cited Minnesota’s bridge collapse as a potential consequence of budget cuts, when the collapse was the result of a design flaw:

In the headlines I wish I had thought of department, Bryan Preston calls the latest Obama anecdote a “bridge over troubled demagoguery.”

Obama’s invocation of a bridge collapse from a few years ago has Ed Morrissey seeing red at Hot Air: “The headline really doesn’t do justice to the actual offensive nature of this video from today’s town hall in Annandale. Obama keeps mentioning “potholes” on roads, but unless he’s referring to interstate highways, the federal government doesn’t fix potholes. To the extent that it funds pothole repair, those funds come from drafting taxes from people where local and state taxes could have been raised instead, and more local control and prioritization of pothole repair would result in better service, rather than wait to see whose Congressman can get their pork put ahead of another’s. But being from Minneapolis, the implication that the St. Anthony Falls bridge collapse in August 2007 had to do with infrastructure spending isn’t just ignorant of basic civics, it’s downright false and offensive.

The bridge collapse occurred because of a design defect, a conclusion reached by the National Transportation Safety Board. The bridge was designed and built in an era when engineers thought that redundant systems were both unnecessary and inefficient.  Gusset plates installed at the time of the bridge’s building were too thin, and without any redundancy to account for a major failure on a single point, it was a tragedy waiting to happen from day 1.  It had nothing to do with any lack of maintenance, and in fact collapsed because of scheduled maintenance to the deck that inadvertently destabilized it to the point of collapse. It’s dishonest in the extreme to use this tragedy as an argument that we neglected our infrastructure, and ghoulish to use the dead for a false political point.  Obama should be ashamed of himself.”

But he’s not, Ed.

Moe Lane sees an intriguing motive here: “ Obama getting in digs against Pawlenty early. Why else lie about the Minnesota bridge collapse? Admittedly, that’s about the only thing that the Democrats actually have on Tim Pawlenty, so I suppose that they think that they might as well try to milk the deaths of 13 people for partisan gain.  One has to have one’s priorities in order, after all – and there’s almost nothing more important to President Obama right now than getting re-elected.”

Get ready for more, warns Pete Wehner: “So the president is using a dishonest recounting of an event, in which more than a dozen people died, in order to support a bad policy. And one suspects that Obama is only warming up, that as we get nearer the election, the more this kind of dishonesty will occur. To see Obama employ these techniques underscores just how weak his case is and how cynical and (literally) unbelievable his claims have become. It isn’t quite what we were told to expect, is it?”


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