Outrage delayed

Maybe we should have rules about when the I-35W bridge collapse can be mentioned in any political context. The current system isn’t working. Republicans mention the bridge, and Democrats are outraged. Likewise, Democrats mention the bridge and Republicans are outraged.

The obvious solution is: Don’t mention the bridge. But perhaps that defeats the point.

Sen. John McCain is the one currently under fire for linking the bridge collapse to Congress’ spending on pork.

But what he said on Wednesday isn’t much different than what he said three days after the bridge collapsed. He said in Ankeny, Iowa then:

“I think, perhaps, you could make an argument that part of the responsibility lies with the Congress of the United States. Do you know what we do with your tax dollars every time you go and fill up your gas tank, and that money that flows to Washington as a result of that? We spend approximately 20 billion -b — billion dollars of that money on pork barrel earmark projects.”

and Radio Iowa reported additional comments

“Maybe if we’d have done it right, maybe some of that money would have gone to inspect those bridges and other bridges around the country. Maybe, maybe the 200,000 people that cross that bridge every day would have been safer than spending $233 million of your tax dollars on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it.”

Then he said this in Pennsylvania on Wednesday:

“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.”

The words are almost identical, and yet the reaction would suggest they were new. What’s the real difference? McCain’s campaign was written off as dead last August, and now he’s the party’s presumptive nominee.