Nick Coleman, having shamed himself already, digs the hole a little deeper with a full-throated apologia for all-consuming partisanship. While investigators piece together what really happened with the I-35W bridge, Coleman is already putting on his partisan pom-poms and taking aim at his carefully-crafted strawman enemies in a column that demonstrates that Nick Coleman is the undisputed mastery of partisan hackery in Minnesota.
Everything about this disaster — except the heroic efforts to rescue and recover the victims — has been steeped in politics. And the most calculated political effort has been the posturing and spinning by public officials trying to act commanding while making sure they don’t get pinned with responsibility for the collapse.
To Nick Coleman, everything is political — like the 12-year-old boy who thinks that the Boston Red Socks are the greatest team ever and everything involving the New York Yankees is pure evil, Coleman has his “team” and everything revolves around support that team. Blind partisanship is one thing when it involves baseball, but when it involves more grown-up matters, it’s simply infantile.
The reality remains that we don’t know what caused the bridge to fall — it may have been a design flaw that no amount of money could fix. It may have been a combination of factors, but to Coleman, there’s no sense of waiting for the facts when he can engage in a partisan witch-hunt.
If you think everyone should play nice about it, you are living in Pollyanna Land. We are in a bare-knuckled political brawl in this country, and the government is in the hands of government haters who want to starve it or, in the alleged belief of presidential ally Grover Norquist, want to “drown it.”
You can’t drown government. It is people who drown.
This is a typical left-wing strawman conveniently trotted out: it’s just as idiotic as calling all Democrats closed Bolsheviks that want to nationalize all industry: that sort of silly name-calling is counterproductive and insipid.
Certainly the President who has grown government at a nearly unprecedented rate, who has dramatically expanded entitlement spending, and has constantly rejected the very line which Coleman attributes to him is not the sort of radical anti-government activist that Coleman makes him out to be — but then again, to some, the facts are inconvenient things best ignored.
Again, reality must intercede. There’s no evidence that there was a lack of funding to fix the bridge — but you can’t fix problems that you don’t know exist. It’s clear that the bridge was structurally deficient, but nobody was suggesting it was in dire need of immediate replacement or that it was unsafe for use. There was no lack of funds that kept an unsafe bridge in operation, unlike Coleman’s simplistic partisan tale, but a bridge that was deemed safe that turned out not to be. For Coleman and his ilk, it isn’t a matter of learning the truth, it’s all about pointing fingers.
Coleman is nothing more than a ghoul — using this tragedy as an excuse for flogging his political agenda. Conservatives can point right back and ask why Minnesota government was paying billions for a light-rail boondoggle when bridges were decaying. Why Minnesota government was chipping in for a new stadium for a privately-owned sports team instead of fixing potholes. Why Minnesota government is now demanding more money rather than wisely spending the money that they had.
Conservatives aren’t anti-government zealots, they simply realize that government should be limited to doing the things that government should do — not subsidizing ballparks, blowing money on pet projects, and expanding its own scope. Infrastructure repairs are not politically sexy — no Congressperson gets their picture taken when a bridge is repaired. And as my Second Law of Public Policy states, if there’s no photo-op involved, politicians are far less likely to care.
This state doesn’t need partisan hacks like Nick Coleman. Partisan hackery is why Congress has the sort of approval ratings usually reserved for used-car salesmen and slime molds. What this state needs are real solutions — that means ensuring that the money that government spends is used where it is needed, not where it’s politically convenient. That means more money for road repairs and less for mass transit boondoggles. That means ensuring that our government does the job it must do before spending billions on other projects. That means analytically and dispassionately finding out what really went wrong on that bridge and ensuring that any bridges like it are reinforced or replaced.
Partisan hackery doesn’t build bridges, it burns them. We don’t need people sitting around and turning this tragedy into another idiotic political pissing match. It’s an utter waste of our time and resources.
Politics isn’t about cheerleading for your team, it’s about getting things done, and making excuses for slavish adherence to the political line in the midst of a tragedy is childish. Sadly, the reason we have such a dysfunctional system of government is because some people value pissant politics over real results — and that’s exactly what Nick Coleman stands for.