I signed major ethics reforms, and I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I've championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, 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.(Transcript of Sarah Palin's speech to Republican National Convention, via NPR, bold emphasis added)Some in the news media and many on the left have rushed to assert that Sarah Palin's account above is a lie. A blogger at "Comments From Left Field" even asserts that conservatives have no answer to the charge.
What is the truth of the matter? Let's start with a news report given the headline "'Bridge to nowhere' abandoned":
Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday the project was $329 million short of full funding.And how do progressives perceive this as a lie? "Comments From Left Field" deferred to Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo, so there we go:
"We will continue to look for options for Ketchikan to allow better access to the island," the Republican governor said. "The concentration is not going to be on a $400 million bridge."
Palin directed state transportation officials to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport. She said the best option would be to upgrade the ferry system.
Sometimes when you've got a liar as big as Sarah Palin on the line only a timeline will really do justice to her fibbing ways.That takes care of the initial assertion phase.
Actually, Congress put the kibosh on the Bridge to Nowhere back in November 2005. Since Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was then head of the Senate Appropriations Committee he was able to force a compromise in which the earmark for the bridge was killed but Alaska got to hold on to the money -- some $442 million of federal tax dollars.This far into the justification of his accusation, Marshall is already talking out of both sides of his mouth. In the space of one paragraph he claims that "Congress put the kibosh on the Bridge to nowhere" and also that Alaska got to hold on to the money. Marshall conveniently neglects to mention that Alaska could have used that money for the bridge. In other words, the specific project did not disappear. Just the congressional strings on the funding. Follow the link Marshall provides at "put the kibosh" and you get the following:
The change will not save the federal government any money. Instead, the $442 million will be turned over to the state with no strings attached, allowing lawmakers and the governor there to parcel it out for transportation projects as they see fit, including the bridges should they so choose.Perhaps Marshall will one day explain how that means that Congress put the kibosh on the bridge, rather than just kibosh on the congressionally attached strings.
Back to Marshall's timeline:
Fast forward to November 2006. That's when Sarah Palin was running as a staunch supporter of the Bridge to Nowhere -- that is, after the feds had themselves already said 'No Thanks.'Marshall's "staunch supporter of the Bridge to Nowhere" claim finds little support via the link he provides. As a gubernatorial candidate, Palin expressed general support for infrastructure projects including the Gravina Island bridge. However, that really has nothing to do with whether or not Palin ultimately said "No thanks" regarding the bridge earmark. As previously noted, Marshall engages in excess when he claims that "the feds had themselves already said 'No Thanks.'" The federal action left use of the federal money for construction of the Gravina bridge project up to Alaska's government.
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.Marshall hit with a bit of a knee-slapper, there. Apparently Democratic control of both houses of Congress is the death-knell for earmarks even though Marshall could have checked the record to see that the Democrat-controlled Congress has essentially done nothing to curb the use of earmarks. Thus we get a repeat of his false (implied) claim that the bridge project was terminated by Congress.
That meant that Alaska was going to have to pick up the tab all on its own.Uh, no, Josh. That meant that any funds in addition to the federal funds already received, such as the $442 million originally earmarked for the bridge, would have to come from the state or other sources.
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.I doubt that the "state project" distinction hold up, here. Even a project stemming from a specific federal earmark would remain a state project. The state effects the project whether via federal funds or otherwise, and from Marshall's own reporting Alaska still had the funds that were originally specifically earmarked for the bridge, to appropriate as they pleased including to pay for the Gravina Island bridge.
She couldn't say 'No Thanks' because Congress had already said 'Forget It'.No, sorry. The Marshall timeline steers into the weeds of illogic unless it's no more than its own lie. Marshall sums up by suggesting that Palin lied because the state kept the earmark money. Rather amazing considering despite that federal money the state would have had to pay for the bridge "all by itself" in Marshall's words.
Still with me?
What we have here is a progressive who has spun himself to the point of dizziness while the denizens of the Fever Swamp clap in appreciation of the feat.
Then, today Josh Marshall posts a brief and excellent timeline destroying any possible defense of Palin’s LieRight. Sure. No possible defense.
(Comments From Left Field)
Bless their little hearts.
Bottom line, Palin did support Alaska's use of federal funds for infrastructure and had a more welcoming attitude toward earmarks in the past than the one she exhibits today. Call that a flip-flop if you want. But Palin killed the bridge to nowhere, so her statement to that effect is not reasonably called a lie. I've run across at least one progressive who tries to remedy that problem by saying that Palin claims that she always opposed the "Bridge To Nowhere." Good luck with that.
Clarification 5/3/2012: Tried to clarify last sentence of fifth-to-last paragraph.