Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sara Palin is no pork-busting reformer

This morning the Washington Post reports that John McCain’s running mate, Governor Sara Palin, billed the citizens of Alaska for overnight travel expenses covering 312 nights she spent at home. Her spokeswoman said these charges are not unusual as apparently seems to be the case in Alaska. This, of course, is the same Sara Palin who at the Republican National Convention bragged about cutting costs of state government and selling the previous governor’s jet she saw as a symbol of extravagance. Saying one thing but doing another seems be a symbol of the reality however.

The Alaska state budget is overflowing with funds, unlike almost every other state in the Union, due to revenue collected related to the exploitation of Alaskan oil and gas at a time when the price of both have shot upward and upward. Just like Russia and an assortment of countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, they don’t have to do anything right to keep the wealth flowing in – they just sit back while our gas-guzzling economy pumps petro-dollars through the pipeline to their treasuries. One of the reasons for Palin’s popularity in Alaska is the state is so awash in money she is proposing sending every man, woman and child a very large check.

Of course, the Alaskan congressional delegation has been notorious for bring the pork home. In other words, taxpayers in the lower 48 are subsidizing any number of projects the oil rich state where citizens don’t feel compelled to pay for themselves. They would rather have taxpayers from the lower 48 pay for their infrastructure while they receive a cash refund. That’s the Alaskan way.

Typical of this is the Gravina Island Bridge proposal – a.k.a. “the Bridge to Nowhere.” The bridge would have connected the mainland to Gravina Island which has a population of 50 people and one small airport. The bridge was to have replaced a ferry that ran every 30 minues. The bridge was projected to cost $398 million and was to be longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge. In her 2006 campaign for governor, Palin supported the project quite vocally. She withdrew her support for the bridge only after it became a symbol of the wastefullness and inefficiencies of budgetting by congressional earmarks. However, she never returned the money.

So why is this a big dear? The Wall Street Journal explains:
Why is this one issue such a big deal? Sen. McCain's anti-earmarks stance has been paramount to his campaign. The Arizona senator has blamed everything from the Minneapolis bridge collapse to Hurricane Katrina on Congress's willingness to stuff bills full of pork barrel spending.

As such, Gov. Palin's image as a "reformer" is part of the storyline the McCain campaign needs to complement the top of its ticket. Her quip about passing on the bridge and "building it ourselves" has been a staple of her stump.
Of course, they haven’t built it themselves. They’ll build it only if someone else pays for it.

Josh Marshall sums up how the untruthfulness about the bridge has come to represent the whole McCain-Palin campaign:
We've now had a week of blaring headlines and one-liners about Sarah Palin as the mavericky, pork-busting reformer from Alaska. But we seem to be witnessing the first stirrings of a backlash and a dawning realization that the 'Sarah Palin' we've heard so much about over the last few days is a fraud of truly comical dimensions.

The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic put it today that's just "a naked lie." And pretty much the same thing has been written today in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the AP, the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday even Fox's Chris Wallace called out Rick Davis on it. …

On earmarks she's an even bigger crock. On the trail with McCain they're telling everyone that she's some kind of earmark slayer when actually, when she was mayor and governor, in both offices, she requested and got more earmarks than virtually any city or state in the country.

Think about that. On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But just go down the list. None of them bear out. …

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

I hope the reality will outstrip the fantasy by the time Election Day rolls around.