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Daily Howler: Palin pretty much lied about that bridge--and about that tax rebate
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PALIN’S PROBLEMS WITH THE TRUTH! Palin pretty much lied about that bridge–and about that tax rebate: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2008

PALIN’S PROBLEMS WITH THE TRUTH: Yesterday, we discussed Sarah Palin’s inaccurate claims about that “Bridge to Nowhere.” Watching her give her standard stump speech, many Americans will get the idea that Palin boldly “told Congress” to take their wasteful bridge and shove it. In fact, she did nothing of the kind—though the press corps has had a very hard time coming to terms with the size of her misstatement (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/08). To establish a fuller record, here is Palin’s fuller remark from last Friday, when McCain presented her to the world. In this passage, Palin was describing her conduct as governor:

PALIN (8/29/08): 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.

Yesterday, we noted the obvious. In fact, Palin never “told Congress” a bloomin’ thing about that much-derided bridge or earmark; Congress had removed itself from the matter thirteen months before she took office. But just to establish the fuller record, let’s ask two more obvious questions. When did Palin “champion reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress?” And returning to her alleged defiance of Congress: When did Palin “tell Congress” that “if our state wanted a bridge, we'd build it ourselves?”

“If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves?” Question: When did Palin say or do something that dimly resembles that?

In our view, Palin’s statements about the bridge/earmark are essentially outright lies. Yesterday, though, the utterly hapless New York Times called them a “slight exaggeration.” But so it has gone in the past sixteen years, as lying became a Democratic disease in the press corps’ reliable scripts. In the journalism of the past sixteen years, Republicans have been allowed to misstate as much as they pleased. By way of contrast, the press corps has often invented lies, then pretended that Major Democrats said them. Covering Palin, hapless news orgs like the New York Times are enacting this drama again.

And no, that isn’t the only howler in Palin’s new stump presentation. In this passage from Friday’s speech, she gives an absurdly bowdlerized account of her vastly heroic work on behalf of Alaska’s tax-payers:

PALIN: Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor I stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the big oil companies, and the good old boy network. When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically, and the state revenues followed with that increase, I sent a large share of that revenue directly back to the people of Alaska.

What a champion of the people! But Palin vastly misstates this heroic tale too. Once again, she has basically lied.

What’s wrong with Palin’s account? She makes it sound like “state revenues” soared because “oil and gas prices went up so dramatically.” But this omits a fundamental part of this story; in fact, state revenues soared because Palin and the Alaska legislature raised taxes on the oil companies! Plainly, Palin’s statement was designed to suggest that state revenues increased because oil and gas prices went up. But that isn’t what actually happened; that omits what she herself did. In reality, she imposed a new tax on the oil companies, then handed the resulting free money to voters. For a concise news report from August 10, just click here and read the first ten paragraphs. (Note: When this Seattle Times report appeared, Palin was still three weeks away from being named by McCain.)

A windfall tax on the oil companies? With the revenues given to tax-payers? That, of course, is what Obama is now proposing on the national level. It’s hard to square with Republican politics or messaging—so Palin again played games with the truth. Rather baldly, she misled voters about what actually happened.

But then, over the course of the past sixteen years, the press corps has played a vast game with the truth, insisting that Major Dems are big liars—and that Major Republicans are “plain-spoken” “straight-talkers.” Republicans know how this game has been played, and craft their messaging accordingly—as was done in Palin’s self-glorying speech. In her recent campaign speeches, Palin has had large problems with the truth—but pundits are strangely failing to notice. But again: When Republican candidates lie through their teeth, the New York Times spots a “slight exaggeration”—if the utterly hapless newspaper spots the misstatements at all.

Liberals, of course, are busy examining photos of Palin’s waist-line. Did she really bear that child? Liberals demand to know this!

THE END OF AMERICA’S CENTURY: Simpering clowns can’t lead the world. For this reason, China will likely dominate at some point in the new century. This morning, we offer a few examples of the simpering intellectual vacuum into which the Chinese will move:

Maureen Dowd: How many times have we used the word “vacuous” to describe the work of this major pundit? On Sunday, in her opening paragraph, Dowd finally went there herself:

DOWD (8/31/08): The guilty pleasure I miss most when I’m out slogging on the campaign trail is the chance to sprawl on the chaise and watch a vacuously spunky and generically sassy chick flick.

So imagine my delight, my absolute astonishment, when the hokey chick flick came out on the trail, a Cinderella story so preposterous it’s hard to believe it’s not premiering on Lifetime...

The rest of her piece is the work of a fool. It’s one of the reasons why the Chinese will dominate. But Dowd has at last defined her intellectual horizon just as we’ve done, for many years. “Vacuous chick flicks” bring her “delight,” the vacuous pundits now says.

Frank Rich: How big a blowhard and fool is Frank Rich? Just check this part of his own Sunday column! Tires squealing, Rich arrived in this piece at the scene of a crime. Unfortunately, he arrives nine or sixteen years too late, depending on when you start counting. The body has long since stiffened:

RICH (8/31/08): As has been universally noted, Obama did what he had to do in his acceptance speech...

But was this a surprise? Hardly. No major Obama speech—each breathlessly hyped in advance as do-or-die and as the “the most important of his career”—has been a disaster; most have been triples or home runs, if not grand slams. What is most surprising is how astonished the press still is at each Groundhog Day’s replay of the identical outcome. Indeed, the disconnect between the reality of this campaign and how it is perceived and presented by the mainstream media is now a major part of the year’s story. The press dysfunction is itself a window into the unstable dynamics of Election 2008.

At the Democratic convention, as during primary season, almost every oversold plotline was wrong.

Tires squealing, Rich arrives at the scene of his cohort’s “dysfunction”—a dysfunction which has been driving our politics since the invention of the Whitewater hoax in his own New York Times, in early 1992. Especially during Campaign 2000, Rich himself stood at the heart of this “press dysfunction.” Now, without a word of explanation, he pretends to arrive at the scene of the crime. His tires squeal—and he doesn’t seem to know that this has transpired for years.

Richard Cohen: This morning, Cohen types this up concerning the Palin pick:

COHEN (9/2/08): Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it. It has produced a parade of GOP spokesmen intent on spiking the needle on a polygraph. Looking right into the camera, they offer statement after statement that they hope the voters will swallow but that history will forget. The sum effect on the diligent news consumer is a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people...

Speaking of “consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people,” must we review the things Cohen said in 1999 and 2000, when he kept insisting that John McCain was the world’s greatest man and that Candidate Gore was a very bad fool who was being made into a very big clown by the deeply vile Naomi Wolf—and by his clownish wardrobe? Remember: Being a pundit means never having to say that you yourself showed contempt for the public, year after year after year.

Eugene Robinson: Ditto for Robinson, who trashed Candidate Gore from his post as “Style” editor—who types this, with straight face, today:

ROBINSON (9/2/08): Whatever the political impact, so much for the John McCain we thought we knew. In choosing Palin, he cynically did the kind of thing that his party is always accusing Democrats of doing.

“The John McCain we thought we knew?” Readers, there never was such a John McCain; there was only the John McCain of this palace insider’s approved scripts. Those scripts were once required typing; now, divergence is permitted. But if Robinson ever believed those scripts, he should resign, as incompetent. Now.

The insider press and its scripts: On Friday, McCain announced his choice of Palin. And in the clogged bowels of the Washington Post, the script machines sprang into action. Dan Balz wrote a page A10 “analysis” piece, so you can’t blame him for seeming to voice an opinion, however hackneyed it may have been. But right there in his opening paragraph, Balz announced what McCain’s choice of Palin meant:

BALZ (8/30/08): John McCain’s advisers predicted weeks ago that the presumptive Republican nominee would use his national convention week to try to recapture his image as a maverick reformer and shake up the presidential race. He did just that Friday with his surprise choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

There it was, in his opening graf! The choice made McCain a maverick again! As analysis, that was hackneyed stuff—and it came straight from McCain’s fax machines. But omigod! That same day, in the Post’s front-page “news report,” Robert Barnes had already said the same thing, in his second paragraph! No, we’re not making this up:

BARNES (8/30/08): Sen. John McCain confounded conventional wisdom Friday by announcing first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, a decision that guarantees that either an African American or a woman will ascend to the White House for the first time in history next year.

The senator from Arizona lived up to his maverick reputation, bypassing former rivals and more experienced governors to choose the little-known Palin, 44, as the person "who can best help me shake up Washington."

In paragraph 1, Barnes hacked out the identity stuff. And then, in paragraph 2 of his “news report,” he played that same maverick card!

(Readers, we now know the difference between “analysis” and “news” at the Washington Post. The difference is exactly one paragraph!)

Just for the record: Inside the Post, these two headlines adorned these two pieces:

BALZ HEADLINE, PAGE A10 (8/30/08): With Pick, McCain Reclaims His Maverick Image

BARNES HEADLINE, PAGE A12 (8/30/08): In Maverick Move, McCain Adds Little-Known Governor to Ticket

They’ve recited this script for the past dozen years. To many, it’s become muscle memory.

By the way, how comically wed is this gang to its scripts? Here was Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press, offering a bit of “found comedy” as she explained the selection of Palin. She knew what it meant too:

MITCHELL (8/31/08): The interesting thing is that John McCain has, as Mike [Murphy] has said, has returned to the original John McCain, the maverick. We are told that he wanted to pick Joe Lieberman. They tested it. He wanted to throw that long ball, and having tried that and having been shot down by the conservative base, he still wanted to fight Washington to choose someone who took on Ted Stevens and to take on the public corruption issue and to say "Washington is broken."

Did you follow that? McCain really wanted to pick Joe Lieberman—but when they “tested it,” his idea got “shot down by the conservative base.” So he didn’t go with his actual choice—thus proving himself a maverick!

Whatever one thinks of Palin’s selection, that’s the work of a deeply clownish elite. It helps explain why this nation simply can’t continue to prosper.

Steve Clemons: We know, you don’t know much about Clemons. When we linked to him in 2007, he was describing a Margaret Carlson soiree; in sheer embarrassment, we withheld his name, as a basic courtesy (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/18/07). Let’s put it this way: If there were an insider liberal intelligentsia, Clemons would be at its center. But there simply is no such living critter. Yesterday, Clemons proved that point with this sad and ridiculous post.

In his post, Clemons applauds Andrew Sullivan for “finally helping end this dizzying frenzy”—the frenzy involving the claim that Sarah Palin didn’t really give birth to her infant son, Trig. Over the weekend, Sullivan had flogged this borderline-lunatic claim—having moved past his earlier, numb-nut suggestion that Palin named her kids after witches (just click here). Let’s be candid: You have to be palace-level nuts to perform as Sullivan did this weekend—to perform as he’s done for such a long time. But there was Clemons, praising Sullivan’s greatness for putting this nonsense to rest!

By the way: Does anyone have the slightest idea why Josh Marshall links to Sullivan?

Let us tell you a basic story about this part of the world:

Your elites are fatuous palace-dwellers (one last sad example below). A society can’t prosper with “intellectual leaders” of this vacuous type. The Chinese have different values and outlooks. But they will soon be driving the world because they haven’t yet handed their society’s functioning to a gang of fools. We have.

Our average voters are very dense—and our leadership elites are vastly broken. You really can’t run a railroad this way—or maintain your role in the world.

The shape of their values: To understand this gang’s real values, just drink in this later post by Clemons. Can you read the actual message conveyed by this “sky-box dispatch?”

We’ll say one thing for Clemons. He doesn’t try to hide his message—his relationship to a sad, broken world.