More musings on what it means to politicize the I-35W bridge collapse.
John McCain's comment in Pennsylvania:
"The bridge in Minneapolis didn't collapse because there wasn't enough money. The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects."
Rep. Keith Ellison in the Associated Press story on McCain's remarks:
"The last thing we need is a misinformed presidential aspirant posturing at our expense."
Keith Ellison on August 3 -- two days after the bridge collapse:
"Well, I will say this. You know, life is about tradeoffs. Government is about tradeoffs. And you can have one thing or another. You can invest in infrastructure or you can pursue other government expenditures, which are not as productive as basic infrastructure investment."
Are they saying the same thing with different words? Infrastructure is crumbling because money is being spent elsewhere?
Very true, they are saying the same things, and Ellison should be called on that. McCain, however, is making those statements when preliminary evidence seems to indicate other factors may be at play. At the least, we have a presidential candidate who is either mis-informed or ignoring the reports to try to make himself look good.
Is it possible that had funding been available, a decision might've been made to build a new I-35 bridge rather than keep adding lanes to an old design?
Was a new bridge even under consideration? I hadn't heard any talk of it before the collapse.
Like it or not, Gov. Pawlenty's decision to pull up the drawbridge and fight any disclosures of what actually happened is the most politicized part of all of this. Thanks to the Strib we now know that the problems had been spotted, engineers had recommended repairs, and higher ups hid the problem.
Money? Money's at the root of all evil, but first let's figure out who's playing Evil in this morality play.
Oh, that's right. We can't because Pawlenty is stonewalling and the national safety people are dragging their feet, hoping to avoid releasing any findings until after the election.
As for Ellison, given that Pawlenty had repeatedly vetoed gas tax increases to pay for exactly such repairs, the Congressman's concerns were totally valid. I'm not sure you can say that about McCain given that Pawlenty immediately tried to correct him.
Alison, those preliminary findings were just that -- preliminary. And given that the head of the NTSB is a Republican operative who just couldn't wait to push those preliminary findings as though they were final in order to take pressure off Pawlenty and perhaps also off the Bush administration, I have great doubts about those findings. Add to that, of course, his refusal to have public hearings, and I wonder if we will ever know the true cause.
I think Rep. Oberstar should just hold Congressional hearings to accomplish what NTSB hearings would do.
On the surface it appears that the McCain and Ellison quotes are very similar. But I'm guessing (I don't know the full context of the quote above) McCain was trying to play into the current knee-jerk disdain of "earmarks." It's unfortunate because there actually could have been earmark legislation to fund rebuilding of the 35W bridge. And there are many other worthwhile "earmark" projects (as well as many that are not), but it's politically fruitful to speak against them in general.