A politically smart road trip

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.