Obama's bridge fantasy


On Monday, President Obama addressed the Building and Construction Trades Department conference in Washington D.C., and delivered the following complaint about Republican opposition to his infrastructure bills:

“I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, our bridges, schools, transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops and teachers and firefighters, creating a new tax cut for businesses.  They said no. I went to the Speaker’s hometown, stood under a bridge that was crumbling.  Everybody acknowledges it needs to be rebuilt. Maybe he doesn’t drive anymore.  Maybe he doesn’t notice how messed up it was. They still said no. There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour, hour-and-a-half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work.  They still said no.”

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post tore this to shreds in his Fact Checker column, explaining out that the bridge Obama was referring to, the Sherman Milton Bridge connecting Indiana and Kentucky, is not a deathtrap teetering on the edge of collapse thanks to those evil Republicans.  It was already repaired a long time ago, and the crack that needed repairing was an original defect in the bridge, not the result of callous neglect.

Another nearby bridge needs some work, but it’s fairly minor, and has all the funding it needs.  Kessler also mentions the most famous bridge President Obama strongly associated himself with, the Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River, my personal favorite example of Obama burning piles of tax money on pointless photo ops for purely political ends.  It was chosen for its “symbolism,” but its renovation is scheduled for 2015, and would not be affected in the slightest by the bill Obama was pushing when he gathered a horde of photographers beneath it.

These bridge fantasies are the political equivalent of false advertising, something that carries legal penalties when the private sector does it.  There’s no hint of comical exaggeration in this advertising, as when a beer company assures you that The Most Interesting Man In the World – who doesn’t have to worry about mosquito bites, because mosquitoes refuse to bite him, purely out of respect – prefers their beverage to all others.  Obama makes his fraudulent claims repeatedly, in deadly earnest.

In the example Kessler cites, the President asserts that a political opponent, House Speaker John Boehner, is an out-of-touch buffoon who doesn’t understand or care about the challenges facing the Little Guy… on the basis of a fantasy that exists entirely within the President’s mind.

This raises the question of why Obama can’t seem to find a bridge that actually would be affected by the legislation he’s pushing.  If America is a blasted wasteland filled with crumbling infrastructure, a problem of such urgency that it calls for another half-trillion in deficit spending – after Obama already spent hundreds of billions of dollars on “infrastructure” – then why is it so hard for him to find a real construction project to pose in front of?  Why are staged photo ops and false claims necessary to push a massive bill – comparable to the entire budget of the federal government, not so very long ago – if the need is so obvious, and ubiquitous?

The short answer, as you can piece together from Obama’s “Four Pinocchio”-quality speech, is that he needed to choose photogenic locations in politically significant areas, linked to key Republican opponents, in order to magnify the urgency of his agenda, and de-legitimize opposition to it.  Politicians, like some of the companies they love to rail against, spend a lot of time convincing us to “buy” things we don’t really need.  They lie far more blatantly than advertisers, and pay much less of a price for it.

Obama is repeatedly guilty of exactly what he accused doctors of, in one of the more infamous outbursts from his early presidency.  It’s tonsil thievery all over again.