Saturday, September 13, 2008

On ‘The View,’ McCain Falsely Claims Palin Never Requested Earmarks As Governor Of Alaska

Appearing on “The View” today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) falsely claimed that Sarah Palin never requested earmarks as the governor of Alaska. “Not as governor she didn’t,” McCain told Barbara Walters after she noted Palin “took some earmarks”:

WALTERS: What is she going to reform specifically, senator?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, earmark spending, which she vetoed a half a billion dollars worth in the state of Alaska.

WALTERS: She also took some earmarks there.

BEHAR: A lot.

MCCAIN: No, not as governor she didn’t, she vetoed…

WALTERS: As Mayor.

MCCAIN: Well, look, the fact is that she was a reform governor.

Watch it:

McCain’s claim that Palin never accepted earmarks as the governor of Alaska is divorced from reality. In fact, she actively sought them:

– Though Palin did reduce Alaska’s earmark requests, “in her two years in office, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation.”

– In March 2008, Palin wrote an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, saying that her “role at the federal level is simply to submit the most well-conceived earmark requests we can” and that her reduction of requests was a response “to the changing circumstances in Congress.”

– In February 2008, Palin’s office sent Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) “a 70-page memo outlining almost $200 million worth of new funding requests for the state.”

– In her most recent earmark requests, “Palin requested millions of federal dollars for everything from improving recreational halibut fishing to studying the mating habits of crabs and the DNA of harbor seals.”

As ThinkProgress has noted, Palin has requested earmarks of the very type that McCain routinely mocks while on the campaign trail. As Walters pointed out, Palin was also a big fan of congressional pork as the Mayor of Wasilla, even hiring a lobbyist to help secure them.

Blizzard of Lies

Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere?

These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies.

Dishonesty is nothing new in politics. I spent much of 2000 — my first year at The Times — trying to alert readers to the blatant dishonesty of the Bush campaign’s claims about taxes, spending and Social Security.

But I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.

Take the case of the Bridge to Nowhere, which supposedly gives Ms. Palin credentials as a reformer. Well, when campaigning for governor, Ms. Palin didn’t say “no thanks” — she was all for the bridge, even though it had already become a national scandal, insisting that she would “not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative.”

Oh, and when she finally did decide to cancel the project, she didn’t righteously reject a handout from Washington: she accepted the handout, but spent it on something else. You see, long before she decided to cancel the bridge, Congress had told Alaska that it could keep the federal money originally earmarked for that project and use it elsewhere.

So the whole story of Ms. Palin’s alleged heroic stand against wasteful spending is fiction.

Or take the story of Mr. Obama’s alleged advocacy of kindergarten sex-ed. In reality, he supported legislation calling for “age and developmentally appropriate education”; in the case of young children, that would have meant guidance to help them avoid sexual predators.

And then there’s the claim that Mr. Obama’s use of the ordinary metaphor “putting lipstick on a pig” was a sexist smear, and on and on.

Why do the McCain people think they can get away with this stuff? Well, they’re probably counting on the common practice in the news media of being “balanced” at all costs. You know how it goes: If a politician says that black is white, the news report doesn’t say that he’s wrong, it reports that “some Democrats say” that he’s wrong. Or a grotesque lie from one side is paired with a trivial misstatement from the other, conveying the impression that both sides are equally dirty.

They’re probably also counting on the prevalence of horse-race reporting, so that instead of the story being “McCain campaign lies,” it becomes “Obama on defensive in face of attacks.”

Still, how upset should we be about the McCain campaign’s lies? I mean, politics ain’t beanbag, and all that.

One answer is that the muck being hurled by the McCain campaign is preventing a debate on real issues — on whether the country really wants, for example, to continue the economic policies of the last eight years.

But there’s another answer, which may be even more important: how a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern.

I’m not talking about the theory, often advanced as a defense of horse-race political reporting, that the skills needed to run a winning campaign are the same as those needed to run the country. The contrast between the Bush political team’s ruthless effectiveness and the heckuva job done by the Bush administration is living, breathing, bumbling, and, in the case of the emerging Interior Department scandal, coke-snorting and bed-hopping proof to the contrary.

I’m talking, instead, about the relationship between the character of a campaign and that of the administration that follows. Thus, the deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign provided an all-too-revealing preview of things to come. In fact, my early suspicion that we were being misled about the threat from Iraq came from the way the political tactics being used to sell the war resembled the tactics that had earlier been used to sell the Bush tax cuts.

And now the team that hopes to form the next administration is running a campaign that makes Bush-Cheney 2000 look like something out of a civics class. What does that say about how that team would run the country?

What it says, I’d argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.

Fact Check: Palin Wrong on Former VP Credentials

ABC News' Lisa Chinn reports: During her interview with ABC News' Charlie Gibson Thursday Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin attempted to deflect a question about the fact she has never met a foreign head of state by saying that "many" other vice presidential nominees in history hadn't met a head of state either.

However Palin was mistaken, at least where recent history is concerned.

Every vice president over the last 30 years had met a foreign head of state before being elected.

"Have you ever met a foreign head of state?" Gibson asked Palin Thursday.

"I have not," Palin said, "and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."

However Palin, who obtained her first passport two years ago, would in fact be the first vice president in 32 years who hadn't met a foreign head of state, if she were elected.

The current Vice President Dick Cheney is a former Secretary of Defense and met foreign leaders in that capacity.

Former Vice President Al Gore was a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee and went on many congressional trips abroad, known as CODELS, where he met foreign leaders.
Former Vice President Dan Quayle was also a member the Senate Armed Committee and went on many CODELS.

Former President George H.W. Bush was the Ambassador to China before he became a vice president and eventually president.

Walter Mondale, who became vice president in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter, was a senator for 16 years before becoming VP and met foreign leaders

Hannity explodes on air, calls guest ‘fool’ and ‘idiot,’ tells him to get off set.

Yesterday on Fox News, Sean Hannity and The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner had a tense exchange about the election. As Kuttner offered advice for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Hannity interrupted, saying Obama is “hiding” his associations with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. “Stop it. Stop it. This is — this is garbage you’re spewing,” Hannity said. Kuttner shot back, accusing Hannity of “doing RNC talking points”:

HANNITY: You spew this line, DNC talking points.

KUTTNER: I don’t spew any goddamn line. Stop insulting me or I’m walking off the set.

HANNITY: Go ahead. Go. Good-bye. Walk off. … Please. I don’t care. Go right ahead. Walk off. You said the economy is in dire straits.

KUTTNER: It is in dire straits. You want to deny that, you fool?

HANNITY: You fool, you idiot.

KUTTNER: You’re going to deny that the economy is in dire straits?

HANNITY: For the first time — sir, sir, unemployment in this country…

Watch it:

Hannity said that claiming the U.S. has seen a “dire” economy is “all based on a lie.” “We got out of the recession that Clinton and Gore gave us,” he said. In fact, job growth in the eight years before Bush came to office was significantly better than in the eight years since.