View Full Version : As Campaign Heats Up, Untruths Can Become Facts

09-10-2008, 10:15 AM
From the moment Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Sarah+Palin?tid=informline) declared that she had opposed the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," critics, the news media and nonpartisan fact checkers have called it a fabrication or, at best, a half-truth. But yesterday in Lebanon, Ohio, and again in Lancaster, Pa., she crossed that bridge again.

"I told Congress: 'Thanks but no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere up in Alaska,' " Palin told the crowds at the "McCain Street USA" rallies. "If we wanted a bridge, we'll build it ourselves."

Palin's position on the bridge that would have linked Ketchikan to Gravina Island is one example of a candidate staying on message even when that message has been publicly discredited. Palin has continued to say she opposed a project she once campaigned for -- then killed later, only after support for it had collapsed in Congress.

As the presidential campaign moves into a final, heated stretch, untrue accusations and rumors have started to swirl at a pace so quick that they become regarded as fact before they can be disproved. A number of fabrications about Palin's policies and personal life, for instance, have circulated on the Internet since she joined the Republican ticket.
Palin and John McCain (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/m000303/), the GOP (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/U.S.+Republican+Party?tid=informline) presidential nominee, have been more aggressive in recent days in repeating what their opponents say are outright lies. Almost every day, for instance, McCain says rival Barack Obama (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/o000167/) would raise everyone's taxes, even though the Democrat's tax plan exempts families that earn less than $250,000.

Fed up, the Obama campaign broke a taboo on Monday and used the "L-word" of politics to say that the McCain campaign was lying about the Bridge to Nowhere.

Nevertheless, with McCain's standing in the polls surging, aides say he is not about to back down from statements he believes are fundamentally true, such as the anecdote about the bridge.


09-10-2008, 02:00 PM
In 2006, the Democrats took over both houses of Congress. So by the time Palin got into office it was clear that not only was the first Bridge earmark killed but that Congress was not going to be ponying up any more money. That meant that Alaska was going to have to pick up the tab all on its own. So since she couldn't pay for it with the federal pork barrel, in September 2007, Palin officially halted the project which was then a state project since Congress had said 'Thanks. But no thanks' two years earlier.

She couldn't say 'No Thanks' because Congress had already said 'Forget It'.


09-10-2008, 03:42 PM
Just how many earmarks did Sarah Palin bring her hometown as mayor? The answer isn't quite as straightforward as the widely cited $27 million figure.

Though vice presidential candidate Palin has championed her record to "end the abuses" of earmark spending in Congress, she has hardly shied away from raking in federal funds, first as mayor and most recently as governor. But a review by ABC News of the earmarks watchdog groups have attributed to Palin paints a more complicated picture of her involvement in bringing federal money both to the city and the state.
Among the findings:

* Sarah Palin was not involved in winning two of the three earmarks to the Wasilla area that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized as a waste of federal spending.
Instead those two of those earmarks – one for an agricultural processing facility and another for federal road improvements – were lobbied by and went to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, akin to the county that includes Wasilla, according to borough and current and former city officials. "The city of Wasilla had nothing to do with it," said John Duffy, manager for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

* The city of Wasilla received far fewer federal earmarks than the $27 million figure but determining exactly how many earmarks Wasilla received under Palin depends on how you count the numbers. The initial figures on Palin's earmarks came from Taxpayers for Common Sense, whose press release state that she "helped get nearly $27 million in earmarked federal funding."

But the city government, under Palin, only directly received about a third of those funds – $7.95 million between 2000 and 2003 – interviews and city records show show. About $18.4 million went to the borough or private entities, some of which the city supported through resolutions, even if it did not request the money itself.

* While Palin continued to ask for earmarks as governor, she reduced requests from $350 million by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski in fiscal year 2007 to $197 million in fiscal year 2009, according to John Katz, Washington D.C-based director of state-federal relations for Alaska.

In a Mar. 5 op-ed piece in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Palin defended her requests for earmarks, arguing that Congress "has the constitutional responsibility to put its mark on the federal budget, including adding funds that the president has not proposed."