Bridge Collapse Provides Cafferty with Fresh Angle to Stigmatize Iraq War

CNN's Jack Cafferty on Thursday afternoon managed to use the Minneapolis bridge collapse tragedy to take another shot at the Iraq war as he pointed out how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $600 billion and featured an e-mailer who complained spending on infrastructure is “a drop in the bucket compared to $450 billion wasted in Iraq.”

[UPDATE, 8:35pm EDT: Cafferty's question during the 7pm EDT hour of The Situation Room: “In light of the Minnesota bridge collapse, how could the U.S. better spend the $2 billion a week that we're pouring into Iraq here at home?” Cafferty later decided to feature an e-mail response from Steven in Hawaii who sarcastically suggested: “Just identify all of America's infrastructure as Taliban, or Islamic extremists or gay marriage proponents and presto all the money in the federal budget will be thrown at it to 'attack' the problem!”]

Cafferty outlined the 7pm EDT hour “Cafferty File” question:

“The total outlay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so far, over $600 billion. Think for a minute about what we could do with that money here at home, not only to improve our own infrastructure, but for other domestic needs that go wanting. Here's the question: In light of the Minnesota bridge collapse, how could the U.S. better spend the $2 billion a week that we're pouring into Iraq here at home?”

Presumably, he meant "how could the U.S. better spend at home the $2 billion a week that we're pouring into Iraq?"

At the end of the 4pm EDT hour of The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel, who pointed out it's difficult to find the “hundreds of billions of dollars” needed to repair infrastructure. Blitzer then went to Cafferty for the e-mail replies to his “Cafferty File” question of the hour, but Cafferty first interjected: “I think the number of dollars that we have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is right at $600 billion.”

Cafferty's question: “In light of the fact that proper maintenance of our roads and bridges has been neglected for years, how do we get our government to do the right thing?” Amongst the answers Cafferty chose to highlight: A woman who described $200 billion, apparently the amount spent in some time period on infrastructure, as “a drop in the bucket compared to $450 billion wasted in Iraq” -- Cafferty suggested “I think it's actually more than that” -- and a man who proposed that “the solution is simple. Revive Roosevelt's National Recovery Act. Begin putting people to work rebuilding our country.”

Cafferty at 4:59pm EDT with the replies to his August 2 question for the 4pm hour:

I'm not a mathematician, but I think the number of dollars that we have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is right at $600 billion. The question, in light of the fact that proper maintenance of our roads and bridges has been neglected for years is: How do we get our government to do the right thing? Now, there's something to get your arms around.

Nina writes: "Jack, we haven't invested in infrastructure in this country since Lyndon Johnson's time, actually. Then, it was guns and butter. Now it's just guns, no butter. The butter seen as fat is our bridges, roads, and rails."

Karen in Indiana: "Bush and our Congress fiddle, while our infrastructure fails us. $200 billion, a drop in the bucket, compared to $450 billion wasted in Iraq" -- I think it's actually more than that -- "some of it on their infrastructure. Vote for anybody, except the ones currently in office."

James in Tennessee: "In the early '90s, I sat on the Highway Users Federation board. One of our missions was to get the feds to release funds slated for the maintenance of the federal highway and bridge system. I retired before anything positive happened in that respect. And I have been out of the loop ever since. You might look into how much unreleased funding is presently available and what it's being used for, if it's not being used for the purposes intended."

Stan in Hays, Kansas: "Congress is spending billions each month to rebuild infrastructure in Iraq. Can't they find a few bucks for the folks in Minnesota and the rest of this country that's falling apart?

Jim in California: "The solution is simple. Revive Roosevelt's National Recovery Act, begin putting people to work rebuilding our country. So many of the infrastructure elements in this country were developed in the '30s and '40s under Roosevelt, and then left to rot in front of our smoke-filled eyes. The country is 80 years behind the curve."

And Jeanne writes my favorite letter: "On this question and almost every question you have asked in the longest while, there is but one answer. Vote out and each and every elected official each and every election year. You need to run this e-mail daily on your show until we start thinking about it. If we would do that, the officials in government would begin to listen to us."

Jeanne, I think you might be on to something.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center