his morning on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cited Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) 2007 cancellation of the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere” as one reason he selected her as his running mate. McCain repeated the increasingly common right-wing myth that Palin opposed the $400 million dollar project. Host Chris Wallace did not challenge McCain’s characterization.
On ABC’s This Week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) similarly argued that Palin is a reformer because she supposedly said, “I’m not going to build a Bridge to Nowhere.” This Week host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Graham’s claim is false:
GRAHAM: To go in her state and say ‘I’m not going to build a bridge to nowhere’ — a $400 – $400 million appropriation that was passed by brute force in the Congress by two senior members of the congressional delegation, very powerful figures in Washington. And for her to say, ‘We’re not going to do this because its not necessary and its wasteful,’ to take on your own Republican party –
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator, she turned against that, only she campaigned for it in her 2006 race, and turned against it in 2007 only after it became a national joke.
Watch a compilation:
When she first introduced herself as McCain’s running mate, Palin also lied about her support for the project. But as Stephanopoulos notes,the claim made by McCain and Graham that Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere is patently false.
In reality, Palin strongly supported the bridge project. During her 2006 run for governor, the Anchorage Daily News interviewed Palin. At the time, federal funding for the bridge had been stripped by Congress. The paper asked if she was in favor of continuing state funding for the project. “Yes,” she responded, noting specifically her desire to renew congressional support:
Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
When Palin finally canceled the project in 2007, she expressed regret that Congress had not been more forthcoming with federal funding. Moreover, as recently as March 2008, her administration was publicly defending its frequent requests for the same kind of earmark spending that McCain himself often rails against.
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Did Palin Really Fight The “Bridge To Nowhere”?
Republicans have been heavily touting Sarah Palin’s reformist credentials, with her supposed opposition to Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” as Exhibit A. But how hard did she really fight the project? Not very, it seems. Here’s what she told the Anchorage Daily News on October 22, 2006, during the race for the governor’s seat (via Nexis):
5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?
Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
So she was very much for the bridge and insisted that Alaska had to act quickly—the party of Ted Stevens and Don Young might soon lose its majority, after all. By that point, the project was endangered for reasons that had nothing to do with Palin—the bridge had become a national laughingstock, Congress had stripped away the offending earmark, shifting the money back to the state’s general fund, and future federal support seemed unlikely. True, after Palin was sworn into office that fall, her first budget didn’t allocate any money for the bridge. But when the Daily News asked on December 16, 2006, if she now opposed the project, Palin demurred and said she was just trying to figure out where the bridge fit on the state’s list of transportation priorities, given the lack of support from Congress. Finally, on September 19, 2007, she decided to redirect funds away from the project altogether with this sorry-sounding statement:
“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer,” said Governor Palin. “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Governor Palin added. “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”
Maybe I’ve missed something, but it sure looks like she was fine with the bridge in principle, never had a problem with the earmarks, bristled at all the mockery, and only gave up on the project when it was clear that federal support wasn’t forthcoming. Now, Charles Homans, who knows Alaska well, says Palin’s anti-corruption instincts are fairly solid (she sold off the gubenatorial jet upon taking office, for one), and a casual Nexis search suggests that she’s fiscally conservative (insofar as that term makes sense in a quasi-socialist state like Alaska), but this hardly looks like the “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” moment everyone’s making it out to be.
P.S. Here’s a piece that Palin’s special counsel, John Katz, wrote in March of this year for the Juneau Empire, assuring the Alaskan public that Palin was still very much in favor of earmarks, but sadly needed to scale back her requests somewhat (to “only” 31 earmarks this year—down from 54 last year) in response to “unwanted attention” from Congress and the press.
Original Post >>>HERE<<<