As I write this, my heart crumbles—much like our nation’s infrastructure.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Hadn’t I just written that, when it came to the ongoing joke that is Infrastructure Week, the tide was turning? Hadn’t I argued that, for the first time in his presidency, Donald Trump looked serious about working with Congress to revamp America’s highways and bridges and tunnels? Indeed, I had. But like a New Jersey citizen who believed that the upper level of the George Washington Bridge was once closed because of a traffic study, I was wrong.
I should have expected as much when reporters started sharing photos on Wednesday morning from the Rose Garden, where Trump was scheduled to deliver an update on his negotiations with Democratic leaders on a massive infrastructure package. Two years in, infrastructure has made for one of the longest-running punch lines of Trump’s tenure: Whenever the White House announced an upcoming week dedicated to the issue, an agenda related to almost anything but infrastructure was soon to follow.
The first Infrastructure Week, in June 2017, set the tone, when Trump’s plan to promote an overhaul of the nation’s air-traffic-control system somehow morphed into a public bashing of his own Justice Department. And it was during the third attempt at Infrastructure Week that Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen infamously revealed that he had paid off the president’s alleged mistress Stormy Daniels. In other words, as I wrote recently, “Infrastructure Week became a shorthand for the constant churn of the Trump era,” making for, at the very least, an amusing meme on Twitter.