I’ve been waiting with bated breath to see how the local Sorosphere would react to the news that their conclusion that the “No New Taxes” crowd all but blew up the 35W River Bridge was wrong.
And while Lori Sturdevant is the gold standard for Tic PR flaks in this area (and Nick Coleman is the DFL’s trained organ-grinder monkey), there is no better barometer of the Twin Cities’ left’s smug, entitled gestalt than Brian Lambert. I’ve beein waiting for his take on what is – for most of us – the good news; the news that bad design, rather than depraved malfeasance, led to the collapse.
Was I to be disappointed?
It’s Lambert. He’s the most reliable source of material in town.
It was 6 p.m. Tuesday when I first heard of the NTSB’s “preliminary” finding that a design flaw—too thin gusset plates—was the cause of the I-35W bridge collapse. By 6:07 p.m., I had received a copy of an e-mail Star Tribune bete noire, Dan Cohen, had fired off into the teeth of Eric Ringham and Tim O’Brien of the paper’s editorial page and columnist Nick Coleman.
Read Lambert’s piece for Cohen’s letter and [the parts of Cohen's] background [that express Lambert's bias]. Summary: Cohen, like me, was jumping on Nick “the Monkey” Coleman’s many, loathsome, premature assignments of guilt. (A detailed fisk of Coleman’s “the dog ate my logic” column will follow, probably tomorrow).
And to start with, Lambert puts on his big-boy pants and takes his medicine:
Those of us who shared Coleman’s view—that penny-pinching by craven politicians fearful of the wrath of the cynical “small-government crowd” bear a responsibility for the collapse—aren’t exactly buoyed by the NTSB report.
I’m trying to imagine how “buoyed” one would be by circumstances that led to 13 deaths. But in the interest of discussion, I’ll let that one slide.
But this one is “preliminary.” It is not the last word, and myriad issues remain, all supporting more comprehensive inspection and maintenance of government-owned infrastructure, something that requires significantly more cash than will ever be generated by a piddly five-cent-a-gallon tax increase…
…and all of which would be more useful than the billion plus dollars we’re going to spend on a light rail line from nowhere to noplace – which seems to be completely inviolate in the world of Brian Lambert and Nick Coleman.
Moreover, although Cohen and his “no-new-taxes brigade” have distilled this to Coleman and the Star Tribune vs. Republicans, Carol Molnau and Govenor Pawlenty in particular, Coleman at least was pretty clear at the start that blame should be placed at the feet of both political parties with the Republicans just happening to be running the show as the thing fell into the river.
This is, of course, buncombe: it was aimed squarely at Pawlenty, fiscal conservatives (and the handy dandy group that serves as our lobbying body, the Taxpayers League) and anyone that doesn’t claim to channel the spirit of Walter Mondale. Which would be Minnesota’s right – Republicans and the thin film of fiscally-responsible Tics.
Read it and judge for yourself.
There is actual good news in Lambert’s column, though. That’s right – those of us who believe Coleman has less “gatekeeping” and “editing” than any self-respecting blogger are also vindicated!
In the interest of both fairness and putting on a quality show for the reading public (who always loves a good scrap . . . not to mention the sight of newspaper elitists eating crow), I called…Coleman, who, at a little before 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, was banging out a column that he doubted the paper would ever run. (Have I buried the lede here?)
When I asked what he was going to say to the Dan Cohens of the world, Coleman replied, “I’ve been strongly advised not to even try.” Word, he says, had been passed along down the editing chain that nothing from him on the NTSB finding was wanted unless he could come up with a new, fresh “reported” angle, maybe, you know, another variation on some victim’s story. (Can’t get enough of that, can we?) But his columnist’s opinion on the report? Apparently not, according to Coleman.
Did I mention he was writing one anyway?
No, and since the suspense isn’t killing you either, gentle reader, here it is.
That’s why I like the guy. He’s a public asset. I think it’s the Irish thing. Born to brawl and all that. When you have some insulated, dweeby editor wringing hands over . . . ooohhh “contentiousness” and “needless provocation” . . ., you want a guy who basically says, “[Bleep] off, and go back to your pod.”
Did the “insulated, dweeby editor” mention anything about “jumping to conclusions” and “acting on facts not anywhere in actual evidence?”
“Responsibility as a reporter?”
“Writing to a standard higher than the bloggers who standards Nick Coleman couldn’t meet if he had to?”
I used to think that was what good Metro columnists did. Especially when they had the acute theatrical sense to know that everyone following a story as rich as the Strib‘s (entirely warranted) “Get Molnau” series wants to hear his response to what appears to be a damning official declaration that he and his colleagues have been wrong, and his apology to the poor beknighted Ms. Molnau. (Believe me, that last part ain’t happening.)
He was wrong! The engineers have (preliminarily) scuppered Coleman’s arrogant, purplefaced, wrong conclusion! Empirical fact has beaten emotional demigoguery!
And Coleman’s empirical, considered, “journalistic” response?
As for Cohen, Coleman says, “I like Dan. Hell, I agree with him on about 90 percent of his criticisms of the paper. But he’s full of gas on this gusset thing.”
“Full of gas”.
And yes, [Strib letters editor and leftyblog starboinker Tim] O’Brien says reaction to the NTSB report is already building with righties demanding to know when the paper is going to apologize to Carol Molnau.
Maybe publisher Chris Harte will run over to St. Paul hat in hand. I don’t see Coleman making that trip.
A better guess: like all good high priests of knowledge, they’ll withdraw to their inner sanctum until the peasants go elsewhere.
We’ll get to Coleman in a bit.