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Daily Howler: Sarah Palin ''told Congress'' nothing. Today, she tells voters a lie
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THE LIE TO SOMEWHERE! Sarah Palin “told Congress” nothing. Today, she tells voters a lie: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2008

THE LIE TO SOMEWHERE: Even after all these years, it’s maddening to watch the career liberal world try to debunk blatant deceptions by conservatives and GOP pols. Could “liberal” and Dem leaders be more inept? Frankly, it’s hard to imagine.

We refer to Sarah Plain’s recent claims about her vast political greatness—about the way she told the Congress to take that bridge and shove it. Because our side is so inept, Palin has felt free to offer variants of this statement in her appearances with McCain:

PALIN (8/29/08): I told Congress, Thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere.

From that statement, citizens get the idea that Palin high-mindedly “told Congress” to pull the plug on that much-derided bridge project—to stop wasting all that tax-payer money. That isn’T close to what actually happened. But your career liberal player are simply too dumb—too undisciplined—to explain it. And so far, the mainstream press hasn’t done better.

Duh. Palin was elected governor in November 2006. One year earlier, in November 2005, the “bridge to nowhere” earmark ceased to exist. The New York Times ran a news report by Carl Hulse under the headline, “Two 'Bridges to Nowhere' Tumble Down in Congress.” (There had actually been two “bridges to nowhere,” though one had gotten the bulk of the mocking publicity). Here’s how Hulse began:

HULSE (11/17/05): Two 'Bridges to Nowhere' Tumble Down in Congress
Congressional Republicans decided Wednesday to take a legislative wrecking ball to two Alaskan bridge projects that had demolished the party's reputation for fiscal austerity.

Straining to show new dedication to lower spending, House and Senate negotiators took the rare step of eliminating a requirement that $442 million be spent to build the two bridges, spans that became cemented in the national consciousness as ''bridges to nowhere'' because of the remote territory and small populations involved.

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.

Palin had nothing to do with this act by the Congress, which occurred thirteen months before she took office. (Palin was elected in November 2006, took office the following month.) But this congressional action, in November 2005, cancelled the original earmark, which had directed the state of Alaska to use those particular federal funds to build that particular bridge. Under the terms of this new act, the state would still receive the funds—but the state could now use the money as it pleased. It could use the money to build the bridges. Or it could spend it on something else.

Again, this all happened thirteen months before Palin became governor. And let’s make it very, very clear: Congress stopped playing a role in this matter that day, in November 2005. From that point on, no one had to “tell Congress” anything about the Bridge to Nowhere, because Congress had removed itself from decision-making about the project. Congress had stopped directing how those funds should be used. In November 2005.

Two years later, in September 2007, Palin finally decided to use those funds for other state projects, not for the Bridges to Nowhere. But this had absolutely nothing to do with “telling Congress” anything. With her baldly deceptive, self-glorying statement, Palin is making voters think that she somehow stood up to the Congress—put a stop to their wasteful spending, told them to take their bridge and shove it. In fact, she did nothing of the kind. As best, she’s baldly misleading the public. At worst, she’s lying through her teeth.

Sorry, but Palin “told Congress” nothing at all about the Bridge to Nowhere. Today, she’s telling the public a lie, about her own moral greatness. But this is the way our brightest liberal site explained this latest act of deception. The post came complete with a snarky headline—and with a bungled explanatio0n of the way this story works.

Go ahead—review the ineptitude shown in that piece. Multiply that by sixteen years, and you’ll know why it’s been so easy to lie about Democratic candidates— why it has been so easy, for all those years, to disinform regular voters.

THE TIMES BUNGLES TOO: Speaking of those mainstream journalists, the New York Time tries to untangle this story today, in a news report by David Kirkpatrick. Unsurprisingly, the Times bungles too.

“Account of a Bridge’s Death Slightly Exaggerated,” says the headline in our biggest, dumbest newspaper (our emphasis). But Palin’s account isn’t “slightly exaggerated.” Her account is simply wrong on its basic claim—the claim that Palin “told Congress” what it could do with the Bridge to Nowhere.

Let’s review: In the key part of Palin’s self-glorying statement, she pictures herself “telling Congress thanks but no thanks” about the Bridge to Nowhere. In fact, she did nothing of the kind. Kirkpatrick includes some minor details which seem to highlight Palin’s disingenuity on this matter, right through her gubernatorial race, when the best way to spend those federal funds had become a state-level issue. But in this passage, he fails to grasp the key fact which drives this whole story—the key fact which makes Palin’s claim an act of deception, not a “slight exaggeration:”

KIRKPATRICK (9/1/08): And she expressed support for the Bridge to Nowhere earmark as well. “I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the State of Alaska that our Congressional delegations worked hard for,” Ms. Palin said when asked about that bridge and another in an October 2006 television debate while campaigning for governor.

But there was no “Bridge to Nowhere earmark” in October 2006, when Palin was campaigning for governor. As Hulse explained in real time, the earmark—the direction to spend federal money to build the bridge—had been already cancelled. The state of Alaska still had a big pot of federal money—money it could spend as it pleased. But the “earmark” for the bridge had been killed—meaning that no one, including Palin, had to “tell Congress” anything.

Sarah Palin “told Congress” nothing. Today, she’s telling the public a lie. But the liberal world is too dumb to explain this. And the mainstream press? Readers! Must you ask?years?