Palin is McCain’s Bridge to Nowhere. Thanks, But No Thanks.

30 08 2008

Perhaps the brain was still a little fuzzy from the shock of McCain’s new VP pick, Alaska’s own governor Sarah Palin.  Perhaps it was still stuck in the endless loop of wondering – why? why? why?  Whatever the reason, it took more than 24 hours for Palin’s first big untruth to register with me.

Today, while I watched her hop out of the “Straight Talk Express” bus, and give the second reading of her acceptance speech, one of my fellow viewers said, “You know, I don’t remember her opposing the Bridge.”  And it hit me.  I don’t remember that either.  A quick double-check with the third member of our watch party confirmed our confusion.  We all live here.  We all watch the news, read the paper, and pay attention to the local political circus, but none of us connected Sarah with her claims of rebuffing the controversial earmark.  If you weren’t watching, here’s the quote from her speech:

“I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere. ‘If our state wanted a bridge’, I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves’.

Reeeeally.

Check out these entries from the Ketchikan Daily News:

“People across the nation struggle with the idea of building a bridge because they’ve been under these misperceptions about the bridge and the purpose,’ said Palin, who described the link as the Ketchikan area’s potential for expansion and growth.

Palin said Alaska’s congressional delegation worked hard to obtain funding for the bridge and that she ‘would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge’.
8-8-06

‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,’ Palin said.”
Ketchikan Daily News 9-28-06

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (currently under indictment) and Representative Don Young (currently under investigation) were the bridge’s two biggest proponents.  But they were unable to convince Congress to fund the infamous bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island at the levels it had hoped.  Now, instead of Alaska paying $160 million, the cost to Alaska skyrocketed to $349 million.

After federal funding had been slashed, Palin was asked if she was still in support of funding the project.  She said:

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.

Well that assistance never materialized, and Alaska’s congressional powerhouse is tumbling like a house of cards.  Senior Senator Ted Stevens is under indictment on seven felony counts.  Representative Don Young is under investigation and has spent more than a million dollars of his campaign fund on legal fees…and he hasn’t even been indicted yet.  And although Stevens just won his primary bid handily, Young is hanging on by his fingernails while a recount is performed to determine the winner of his contest.  His challenger?  Sean Parnell, Palin’s Lt. Governor and also the head of the Division of Elections that is in charge of recounting the votes for his own race.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The third member of the delegation, Lisa Murkowski, was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat by her own father, Senator Frank Murkowski who left the senate to become the governor that Sarah Palin defeated in the 2006 primary.  (Are you keeping up with me?)  I could keep going, but those are the highlights.

So, if Congress had gone along and coughed up what Stevens and Young had asked for, guess what….that bridge to nowhere would have become a reality during the Palin administration.  She supported the bridge every step of the way…until the funding was cut.  So we decided to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.  If we want a bridge we’ll build it ourselves?!”   Is that like the failed earmark version of “You can’t fire me….I quit!”

The fact that “Thanks, but no thanks” was the money line for her debut as Vice Presidential candidate, and yet is a total fabrication, makes the mind reel.  Is there no fact checker on McCain’s staff?

Today, Palin called in to a local radio program, and bubbled, “This is so amazeen!”  Then she said that her children and she had only learned of her selection the day before the announcement was made.  I think of the extensive vetting process that the Democratic VP candidates went through.  Evan Bayh said that he was grilled extensively about skeletons in the closet, and even whether any of his kids had a Facebook or MySpace page that might come back to haunt him.

Apparently the Republicans don’t worry about such things.  With all the potential scandals and skeletons about to emerge from the Palin closet, (troopergate, babygate, bridgegate) we in Alaska are sitting here listening to the clock tick and wondering when it will all hit the fan.

But many Alaskans are just giddy over the whole thing.  The local sportscaster, after reporting on the high school basketball scores, said, “You know Sarah Palin used to be a sportscaster….and she’s the Vice Presidential candidate.  So, I think I wanna do that…yeah.” (eyeroll)  And one woman who was interviewed said she was totally in support of Palin because, “This is really going to put Alaska on the map.  Now people are going to find out what we’re really all about.”

Because this is what we’re looking for in the next Vice President.  We want Alaska to be on the map.  And not in that little box in the South Pacific you guys always stuff us in.  This election is about Alaska’s road to legitimacy!  Sar-ah Sar-ah Sar-ah! (banging head on desk and going to bed)

UPDATE:

Looks like the Anchorage Daily News is now reporting this.  Read HERENote to outsiders: the tongue-in-cheek reference Palin makes to herself as “Valley Trash” demonstrates a local ‘regional slur’, as it were.  Former State Senate president Ben Stevens (son of indicted Senator Ted Stevens, and currently under investigation himself) called what he perceived to be the under-educated redneck, rural population of the Mat-Su Valley where Sarah Palin is from, “Valley Trash”.

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In the Land of Palin.

30 08 2008

I’m off for the Labor Day weekend.  Little would I have known that my scheduled weekend away, right in the heart of Palin country (known to Alaskans as “The Valley”) would fall on the weekend she became one of our Vice Presidential nominees.  No, it still hasn’t sunk in.  I’ll be passing through Wasilla itself and will post more pictures when I return, and get some local reaction on the “day after”.   I’ll have internet access, though it will be dial-up.  Eek.

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UPDATE:  Just watched the back-to-back McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden rallies in the “rust belt”.  I was waiting to hear Palin’s second speech, but got the recycled speech from yesterday.  McCain’s intro was the same too.  Palin keeps referencing Alaska, which no doubt endears her more to her fan base here, but I keep asking myself….can people relate to Alaska gas issues?  When she talks about Juneau, do they even know that’s the capitol of Alaska? 

The most remarkable thing?  The McCain camp obviously hoped to endear themselves to the disgruntled Hillary supporters by choosing a female running mate. But when Palin saluted Hillary Clinton saying that she ran her campaign with ‘determination and grace’….there were BoosLots of them.  I’m guessing that any Hillary supporters who had tuned in to check out the McCain/Palin party didn’t feel very welcome.  I doubt that they’ll mention Hillary again on the open road.  They won’t want to risk that again.  Maybe we’ll hear it at the convention where delegates will understand it’s strategically not good to jeer at the candidate whose votes you hope to win.

Then the Obama/Biden appearance.  Looks like they’re being cautious about Palin.  Obama referred to Biden as one of the great statesmen of our times.  They didn’t even have to say Palin for everyone to make that comparison in their minds. Then Obama made reference to the fact that he’d visited every state except Alaska, and that, come to think of it, he ought to visit now.  He’s been saying this for months, but nothing firm yet.  I think it would be great.  Obama got 75% of the votes in the Democratic caucus here, and the caucus site in Anchorage was packed.  People were literally having to park 2 miles away from the caucus site and ran in 5 below zero to make it in on time.  I know many people that couldn’t even make it into the building.  I think a huge rally for Obama would go a long way to show how much support he has in Palin’s home state.

In my trip throgh the Valley today, I didn’t see any McCain signs.  I wasn’t really surprised, as McCain came in a less-than-impressive fourth in the Alaska Republican caucus.  But I’m sure when the name Palin gets added, they will pop up like mushrooms overnight.  I did see a resurrected ‘Sarah Palin for Governor’ sign in front of a store.  The shopkeep said he cried with joy when he heard the news, and that she was a good woman who supported Alaskans.  Then he said that he had given up on all those ‘liberal socialists’ and decided they may as well all be ‘queer’.  I’m hoping that this is one of the more extreme reactions, and I was really glad I took the Obama sign out of my car window before leaving home. 

The only other person I’ve talked to so far is an Independant (over 50% of Alaskan voters are Independant or registered non-partisan) who said she was stunned by the announcement and added, “But she’s not qualified!” She also said that she didn’t remember Palin standing up against the Bridge to Nowhere.

More tomorrow.