Sarah Palin And The Bridge To Nowhere

She was for it before she was against it:

ST.PAUL — In her nationally televised speech accepting the job as John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress” and opposed federal funding for a controversial bridge to a sparsely populated island.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere,” Palin said Friday in Ohio, using the critics’ dismissive name of the project. “‘If our state wanted a bridge,’ I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves.'”

While running for governor in 2006, though, Palin backed federal funding for the infamous bridge, which McCain helped make it a symbol of pork barrel excess.

And as mayor of the small town of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002, Palin also hired a Washington lobbying firm that helped secure $8 million in congressionally directed spending projects, known as earmarks, according to public spending records compiled by the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste and lobbying documents.

Wasilla’s lobbying firm was headed by Steven Silver — a former chief of staff to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key proponent of the bridge project.

“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 in August 2006, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.

The Anchorage Daily News quoted her in October 2006 as saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. “The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist,” she said.

She didn’t change her mind, apparently, until the project, and the state of Alaska, had become a laughingstock when the rest of the nation realized that they wanted yet more of our money:

She changed her mind, he said, when “she saw that Alaska was being perceived as taking from the country and not giving, and that impression bothered her and she wants to change it. … I think that Sarah Palin is someone who has the courage to reevaluate situations as they developed.”

And yet another Republican with a supposed reputation for fiscal conservatism bites the dust.

Flip, meet flop.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

  • SC

    I was flat out floored by McCain’s pick. After months of hammering on Obama’s inexperience, he grabs someone with less than a full term as governor of a state with less population than most major cities, who prior to that was mayor and council member of a town with less than 9,000 people? I’m confused, to say the least.

    So far, I’ve seen the defense that she has more executive experience than Obama or Biden. That’s a bit like saying someone that managed a corner bookstore can step into 2nd of command of a major international corporation tomorrow. Yeah, you just might get lucky and get a real virtuoso that turns out to be a brilliantly lucky selection, but it’s way more likely that…well, you get my point. Call me picky, but being mayor of a town that small usually means your biggest problem is worrying about whether or not the city dog catcher is doing his job well. (Another heebie-jeebie moment – she apparently asked the library director if she would be ok with censorship of certain books and when the director said yes, Palin backed off and said it was just a hypothetical question. Why even ASK that question?!?)

    Oh, but she’s been commander of the Alaska National Guard, comes the rebuttal. The AKNG has just 4,000 members, and according to their commander while the governor has a hand in dealing with natural disasters and such, the governor is not privy to national security matters. How many natural disasters that required the mobilization of the AKNG have happened in the last 20 months, I wonder?

    I’ve seen figures that place between a 15 and 20 percent chance of McCain not surviving his presidency based on his age and health history. I’ve seen an estimate of as high as another 20 percent that we would suffer a health incident that would remove him from the helm for long-term (weeks or months) or perhaps permanently (stroke, for example).

    Now, with that in mind, tell me honestly – does the thought of President Palin dealing with Putin, Ahmadenijad, or Kim Jong Il give you any comfort at all?

    For all that Obama may not be the greatest choice in the world, we’ve at least had a year or more to get a handle on him and numerous debates and campaigning events and speeches and he’s a known quantity. We’ve got about 2 months to learn about Palin, and so far her comments haven’t thrilled me – not when just a month or two ago she was asking what it is that a Vice President does all day.

    To vote, or not to vote…that is the question….sigh.

  • Dewayne

    The state never gave back any of the money that was originally earmarked for the bridge.

    From a 9/1/08 Reuters Story:
    “She said ‘thanks but no thanks,’ but they kept the money…”

    http://www.reuters.com/article

  • SC

    Well, apparently when she was mayor of Wasilla, she actively sought federal earmarks for town projects, even hiring a lobbying firm to go after them and ultimately getting about $27 million in earmarks:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/01/AR2008090103148.html?

  • Kay

    Technically, that money was not an “earmark”, but a part of the infamous “Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century”. The money was supposed to be spent on roadways and bridges all over the country, with the large part of Alaska’s portion going to the Bridge to Nowhere, lobbied for by the previous governor and his cronies.

    The bridge was pretty much out of the picture when Gov. Palin took office, and the funds had been released for use elsewhere on Alaska’s roads. Gov. Palin did let the world and her constituents know back in September 2007 that after looking into the recommendations, she recognized that the funds would be much better spent on other roadway maintenance.

    Does this mean she lied? Or just stretched the truth? Or does it simply mean she’s human and has stated her case the way she remembers it to have been.

    I can give her, at this point, the benefit of the doubt.