Flanked by a dozen people who lost cars or family members in last week’s I-35W bridge collapse, President Bush today declared a “war on infrastructure.”

Describing the July steam-pipe explosion in Manhattan and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis as “cowardly attacks on our way of life,” he explained that until now, “the war on infrastructure has been largely centered on Iraq, where it has been over 70 percent successful. Today, very few operating bridges, water mains or power grids remain for Iraqis to worry about.”

Anticipating the usual caviling, Bush added that the new war is in no way a distraction from the ongoing “war on terror.”

“The World Trade Center towers would not have fallen under the force of airplane collisions alone,” he said. “The role of faulty construction, which is a code phrase for infrastructure, can no longer be denied.”

Ken Pollack, the Brookings Institution’s die-hard supporter of the war in Iraq, warned that the war on infrastructure could be as difficult to win as the war on terror. “We’d gotten used to fighting human enemies,” he said, “and now we’re up against abstract nouns.”

“We expected that there would be a dastardly attack on the homeland sometime this summer,” added Donald Rumsfeld, who will end his brief retirement to take charge of the war on infrastructure. He attributed the nation’s lack of preparation to the Clinton Administration, with its “hear-no-evil, see-no-evil policy toward highway overpasses.”

Congressional Democrats rushed to display their support for the President in his new initiative. Hillary Clinton promised to vote for the bombing of infrastructure on condition that the President checks in with members of Congress first, assuming he can find them and that the phone and DSL lines are working. Echoing her sentiments on Pakistan, Clinton said she does not rule out the use of nuclear warheads on particularly entrenched elements of infrastructure, even if civilians are using them at the time. “Anyone who wants to be President has to be prepared to kill people,” she added, “with her bare hands if necessary.”

Perhaps the strongest anti-infrastructure rumblings have come from Dick Cheney, who sent a message from his undisclosed location shortly after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, stating, “We will prevail even if it means waterboarding every last one of America’s remaining bridges.”

A spokeswoman from the Transportation Safety Administration announced that people seeking to cross bridges will be required to remove their shoes, jackets and all metal items. The effect of this measure on infrastructure is not known, but, she said, “it will definitely facilitate swimming.”