Obamateurism of the Day

If it weren’t for those dastardly Republicans, Barack Obama often argues, I’d have fixed all our woes by now!  Unfortunately for Obama, he often gets his facts wrong in these arguments, but perhaps none quite so wrong as in a speech Monday to the Building and Construction Trades Department conference.  He claimed that Speaker of the House John Boehner had blocked him from fixing bridges in Ohio and Kentucky:

I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, our bridges, schools, transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops and teachers and firefighters, creating a new tax cut for businesses.  They said no. I went to the Speaker’s hometown, stood under a bridge that was crumbling.  Everybody acknowledges it needs to be rebuilt. Maybe he doesn’t drive anymore.  Maybe he doesn’t notice how messed up it was. They still said no. There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour, hour-and-a-half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work.  They still said no.

Really? Er … no, not really, as Glenn Kessler discovered.  At first, the WaPo factchecker thought Obama had repeated his claims about the Brent Spence Bridge, for which Kessler had already assigned Obama three Pinocchios.  Instead, Obama meant the Sherman Milton Bridge, which links Kentucky and Indiana, not Ohio.  Governor Mitch Daniels (of, y’know, Indiana) had to shut down the Sherman Milton Bridge because of a crack discovered in the structure.  But as Kessler discovered, it didn’t stay shut down for long:

While Obama claimed “these bridges don’t work,” the Sherman Milton Bridge has already been repaired, ahead of schedule, and motorists are driving over it again.

It turned out that, rather than being an example of an aging bridge, the crack that had been discovered actually had been there ever since the bridge was constructed in 1962, because of the type of steel used at the time. Other repairs were ordered, and the bridge reopened nearly three months ago — without needing any of Obama’s jobs-bill funds.

Another nearby bridge, the Kennedy Bridge, will soon undergo redecking, but officials said the work will not lead to a shutdown. Again, the work is being done without Obama’s jobs-bill money.

Let’s recap.  Obama got the geography wrong, got the bridge status wrong, got the problem wrong, and neither of the two projects need the funding he touted.  Perhaps he’d do better to listen to Boehner.  At least Boehner knows where Ohio ends and Kentucky and Indiana begin.  Still, he’s getting better … in a way.  This time Kessler gave him four Pinocchios.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!