Political Animal


September 15, 2011 4:30 PM A politically smart road trip

By Steve Benen

I like it when the White House makes smart decisions.

President Obama will promote his jobs bill at a bridge important to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) district next week, the White House announced Thursday.

The White House said that Obama would visit the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio on Sept. 22 in order to highlight the “urgent need” for infrastructure improvements, one of the ideas included in his bill.

Although the bridge is located very near Boehner’s district, Obama has not spoken to the Speaker since he gave his speech introducing the bill to a joint session of Congress last week, and White House press secretary Jay Carney did not know Thursday whether Boehner had been notified.

Carney said the bridge was chosen because it is “relatively easy to get to from Washington.”

Carney was being coy, and that’s fine. There’s no great mystery about the political angle of the president’s appearance.

And, really, there shouldn’t be. The Brent Spence Bridge is a double-decker inter-state bridge that spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky. Officials in both states consider the bridge “functionally obsolete,” and believe the Brent Spence Bridge should either be replaced or bolstered with significant repairs. If the president is eager to talk about worthwhile infrastructure priorities, this certainly fits the bill.

Then there’s the political symbolism — that the bridge starts in Ohio’s 8th congressional district (home to House Speaker John Boehner) and ends in Kentucky (home to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) makes it a nearly perfect example. By making infrastructure investments — investments that used to enjoy bipartisan support before the GOP slipped into madness — the Obama administration can repair the Brent Spence Bridge, putting locals back to work, and improving local transportation and commercial needs.

Both Boehner and McConnell are against such investments because, well, I’m not entirely sure why. It seems to have something to do with a child-like understanding of economics (“spending = bad”) and a knee-jerk opposition to anything the president considers a good idea.

That Obama will travel directly to Boehner’s district to help drive this point home takes a little chutzpah. Good for him.

On a related note, we’ve also been keeping an eye on the Sherman Minton Bridge, which links Kentucky and Indiana. Cracks in the bridge has forced its closure last week, diverting tens of thousands of cars onto a nearby bridge, which also wasn’t designed to accommodate that kind of traffic. A solution, under the best of circumstances, is still months away.

But there’s Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, who doesn’t see the need for infrastructure investments.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Live Free or Die on September 15, 2011 4:35 PM:

    This was my idea. I have talking about Obama doing this type of event forever. Glad the WH finally gets it.

  • Anonymous on September 15, 2011 4:35 PM:

    Both Boehner and McConnell are against such investments because, well, Iím not entirely sure why.

    Because. It. Hurts. Obama's. Reelection. Chances.

    I hope you're not reverting to that faux coy tone, Steve. McConnell made his reasons for every Republican "NO!" very clear: Their ONLY goal is to make Obama a one-term president. If the country has to suffer, well, in the Rethugs' view it's our own fault because we should never have elected the n*hCLANG.

  • Gummo on September 15, 2011 4:37 PM:

    That "Anonymous" was me. D'oh!

  • Live Free or Die on September 15, 2011 4:38 PM:

    If this is the only thing that Obama did for the next 14 months, I would totally stop complaining about his performance.

  • Mimikatz on September 15, 2011 4:44 PM:

    It also really highlights the fact that these two cretins don't care at all about their own constituents and only answer to themselves and their financial industry overlords, including in McConnell's case the Chinese in-laws. Boehner can prate all he wants about growing up poor, but the fact is he doesn't care if his siblings are on welfare because they are unemployed, and McConnell just loves to enjoy his lavish lifestyle. Even if the bridge collapsed they wouldn't care, or would blame the Obama Transportation Dept (headed by a Republican), whatever was most expedient.

  • Fool on a Hill on September 15, 2011 4:49 PM:

    The bridge starts in Ohio in the 1st District, represented by Steve Chabot - the guy who violates his constituents's First Amendment rights at his town-hall meetings because he can. There were several posts about him over the last two weeks. Chabot, on of the TRULY dumb reps (I cannot say he represents me, but I live in the 1st District) is very proud of the fact that he never brings federal funds into Cincinnati/Hamilton County.

    The Weeper of the House's district is about 25 miles north, but I-75 traffic is vital to it.

  • Frances Smith on September 15, 2011 5:00 PM:

    Go Barack - YOU ROCK!

  • bleh on September 15, 2011 5:22 PM:

    Yes, but Kenyan socialist Muslim. Also gaymarriage.

  • Trollop on September 15, 2011 5:24 PM:

    Obama should show up at every project like this. Fuck the reps of the area! This is a win strategy, who would have imagined that the capitulator in chief might act in such a manner? We'll see how long it lasts..

  • fourlegsgood on September 15, 2011 5:25 PM:

    The DNC should run ads about this bridge using footage from that movie "Mothman" with that cryptic voice intoning, "...a great tragedy on the Ohio river..."

  • walt on September 15, 2011 5:28 PM:

    I would like Obama even more if he stopped being so nice about this. More than half this country thinks the stimulus failed. They think this because the right-wing owns the media, a huge megaphone differential, the corporate spokespeople (aka, news anchors), not to mention the chain e-mail factory that lets Aunt Bertha know Obama wants to take her Medicare and give it to his Kenyan relatives.

    There is no bipartisan Washington fantasyland worthy of protection. What you have are careerists and snakes killing this nation's middle class. Oh for a president who simply noted this instead of blurring this distinction. But then you'd have to make some necessary enemies. Unless you're willing to kill for your ideals, your ideals will mock you with your inconsequence.

  • Live Free or Die on September 15, 2011 5:30 PM:

    Also a cowboy with a rifle in the background with the American Flag.

  • Jeff In Ohio on September 15, 2011 5:33 PM:

    THe bridge is in Ohio's 1st. Not Boehner's. The smart move would be to tear it down and make through traffic go over the 275 bridge that spans Indiana and Ky. Having that much traffic move through downtown Cincinnati will always be a problem.

  • rrk1 on September 15, 2011 6:40 PM:

    Hopefully Obama won't scare himself back into bipartisan fantasy land. A relentless campaign of highlighting infrastructure needs and Rethug obstructionism has been needed for years, even before his administration. Unless Obama becomes more populist and less corporatist he is doomed. The campaign against the insane reincarnation of the John Birch Society that now calls itself 'Republican' has been begging to be waged. Hopefully he has the balls to do it. Take no prisoners!

    Question: Why are the Democrats so dumb? Answer: Because they've been bought.

  • bdop4 on September 15, 2011 7:24 PM:

    I'm with everyone else who thinks this is a great idea.

    Obama, or other prominent Dems, should be doing this in all the repub districts. Take the fight to them and put them on their heels.

    Democratic leadership should develop a coordinated strategy on this tactic.

  • Brad on September 15, 2011 8:12 PM:

    Not only should President Obama also stop by the Sherman-Minton bridge but he should make a visit to my hometown of Madison, Indiana and see the stimulus-funded progress being made replacing the Madison-Milton Bridge. The contrasting backdrops (an idle bridge and massive traffic backups in Louisville, construction workers busy working in the other) would make great political theater.

  • exlibra on September 15, 2011 8:35 PM:

    Obama, or other prominent Dems, should be doing this in all the repub districts.-- bdop4, @7:24PM

    I suspect that *only Obama* can show up in anyone's district, cameras and press in tow, *without an invitation* from the district's poobahs. But, like everyone else, I do like this tour, in which Obama steps on so many dicks. If you remember, his first "take it to the street" appearance on the American Jobs Act (pass this bill; pass it now!)trail was in Eric Cantor's dick-strict (Richmond).

  • David Martin on September 15, 2011 11:12 PM:

    Florida Republicans are promising to turn down any and all funds that might be offered, should the jobs bill somehow pass.

  • bob h on September 16, 2011 6:14 AM:

    The Chamber of Commerce likes infrastructure spending, and its members do, too. So the Chamber goes all out to elect the likes of Boehner and McConnell.