Man, did Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau sound testy in her interview yesterday. Nobody was accusing her of anything (yet) but the woman who for years has been trying to run her department on the cheap (remember the ridiculous attempts to find a contractor who would self finance the Crosstown Highway repair so the state could pay them back at some later date?) really sounded defensive. She angrily claimed that she would never have short changed I35 bridge maintenance since her own daughter often drove on it.
When I heard that my first thought was of a scene from one of my favorite movies. In Jaws, after the whole town finally sees a person killed by the shark Chief Martin Brody puts the screws to the mayor to get him to hire someone to kill it. A freaked out and defensive mayor tells him, "Martin, my kids were on that beach too." No one in the audience feels much sympathy for him as the mayor had refused to take any action after the prior attacks because there were too many tourist dollars at stake.
Could better transportation funding have made a difference this week? Who knows, maybe not. But we sure as hell don't have any reason to think Carol Molnau was interested in doing much to rebuild infrastructure, no matter what roads her daughter drives on. For 25 years I've been hearing the Republican party tell me that government is the enemy and the best thing America could do was to defund it as much as possible. They referred to it as "starving the beast" and Grover Norquist famously said he planned to shrink the size of government until it was small enough to drown in a bathtub. Well, there was some drowning this week all right, and I don't think it is going too far to lay at least some of the blame on the folks who have been trying to convince the country that having the government spend money is some sort of sin.