Monday, September 15, 2008

Hey, thanks for the bridge to nowhere!

I usually stay away from rank punditry and campaign-related error correction on this blog, but I have to point this out...

The New York Times had a story on Friday that seemed to be very hard-hitting against Sarah Palin and John McCain's stormy relationship with the truth. Most of the article was about McCain's lying ads, but there was also this:

[W]hat Ms. Palin has often told audiences about pulling the plug on the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, an expensive federal project to build a bridge to a sparsely populated Alaskan island that became a symbol of wasteful federal spending. “I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska,” she said this week in Virginia.

But her position was more like “please” before it became “no thanks.” Ms. Palin supported the bridge project while running for governor, and abandoned it after it became a national scandal and Congress said the state could keep the money for other projects. As a mayor and governor, she hired lobbyists to request millions in federal spending for Alaska. In an ABC News interview on Friday with Charles Gibson, Ms. Palin largely stuck to her version of the events.
Here's the problem: while that appears to be the NYT going after Sarah Palin and McCain for their lies about Palin's record, the Times is actually going too easy on them.

All the Times says is: she originally supported the bridge, before she rejected the earmarks.

That itself would be bad, but that's not the whole story.

Assuming that this news story is accurate (link via TPM), Palin is still, to this day, supporting the bridge to nowhere:
Gov. Palin’s administration acknowledges that it is still pursuing a project that would link Ketchikan to its airport -- with the help of as much as $73 million in federal funds earmarked by Congress for the original project.

"What the media isn't reporting is that the project isn't dead," Roger Wetherell, spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Transportation, said. In a process begun this past winter, the state’s DOT is currently considering (PDF) a number of alternative solutions (five other possible bridges or three different ferry routes) to link Ketchikan and Gravina Island.

The DOT has not yet developed cost estimates for those proposals, Wetherell said, but $73 million of the approximately $223 million Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) earmarked for the bridge in 2005 has been set aside for the Gravina Access Project.
So, this is yet more fuel for the argument that the Obama campaign seems to be testing out, albeit somewhat haltingly so far: "John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election." [UPDATE: Right after I posted that, this Obama ad debuted.]

You know, I'm all in favor of them making that argument ... but at the same time, there's something about this whole focus on earmarks that doesn't inspire me with tons of confidence in Obama. Stop back tomorrow, and I'll explain ...

UPDATE: Continued here.


Stupe said...

You vote for the person who shares your first name.

Anonymous said...

She's the governor of the state. You don't think she's supposed to champion infrastructure improvements? You might want to check out the wikipedia entry, it actually gives a little perspective on the issue. You'd better do it soon, you know how thoroughly wikipedia has been co-opted by political activists.

John Althouse Cohen said...

OK, so you don't think there's anything wrong with state/local officials getting federal funds for specific state/local projects? ...

Anonymous said...

Only the projects that the voters decide they want. Of course the lobbyists lobby for money, but then the voters decide what to do with that money.

This was Palin's winning formula---get as much money as she could for her State, and then let the voters decide how to spend it.

Don't you think she's good looking ?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Don't you think she's good looking ?

Who cares?

We've established she wins the beauty contest. We're supposed to be deciding if she should be president.