Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2008

ENDING THE PALIN CHARADE.... The McCain campaign has repeated the bogus claim about Sarah Palin opposing the Bridge to Nowhere many times since the ticket was formed nearly two weeks ago, but by putting the claim in a television ad, the campaign apparently pushed its luck.

For whatever reason, the media seems to offer candidates a certain leeway on false claims made on the stump, but once they start lying in television ads, reporters are less accommodating.

A variety of news outlets, most notably the Wall Street Journal, have taken a firm line on the ad's claim about Palin and the infamous pork project, blasting the campaign for its fairly obvious efforts at deception. Yglesias added, though, "The ultimate test of what matters isn't one-off articles but campaign narratives."

And what might such a narrative look like? Josh Marshall has an idea.

[W]e seem to be witnessing the first stirrings of a backlash and a dawning realization that the 'Sarah Palin' we've heard so much about over the last few days is a fraud of truly comical dimensions.

The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic put it today that's just "a naked lie." ... On earmarks she's an even bigger crock. On the trail with McCain they're telling everyone that she's some kind of earmark slayer when actually, when she was mayor and governor, in both offices, she requested and got more earmarks than virtually any city or state in the country.

Think about that. On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But just go down the list. None of them bear out.

That's a rough assessment, but it's also a reasonable one. From the troopergate scandal to the Bridge to Nowhere, from Palin's connection to Ted Stevens to the eBay story, from her hunger for earmarks to her "national security experience" through the Alaska National Guard, the McCain campaign is presenting a bill of goods, hoping voters won't know the difference.

Eight years ago, the media didn't hesitate to trash Al Gore as some kind of unreliable serial exaggerator, whose word simply wasn't reliable. Indeed, reporters actually seemed to take pleasure in it. As it happens, Gore's purported "exaggerations" were largely a media-created fantasy, reported by those being egged on by the Bush campaign.

Eight years later, the McCain/Palin ticket has actually earned the label, but it's apparently impolite to acknowledge this out loud.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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Comments

What a sad state of affairs when the 'press' in this country will most likely appoint to the White House the candidate they want.

Voting shmoting. Issues Smissues.

Whatever. America 1776-2000. RIP.

Posted by: citizen_pain on September 9, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

"but it's apparently impolite to acknowledge this out loud."

But that's because he's a POW and she's got two X chromosomes. C'mon, Steve!!

Posted by: Michigoose on September 9, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

But Drudge rules their world. We have no shot unless Drudge calls her a liar.

Posted by: tomboy on September 9, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Michigoose- also, IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on September 9, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The Contra Maverick ad from Obama was a major shot across McCain's bow. If the McCain camp continues both to bash the press and to lie about something so brazenly, I think that the press just might create the "say anything to get elected" label that is clearly justified.

Posted by: BH on September 9, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Every day it feels as though another center right pundit is shifting position away from McCain. Even some far right pundits like Frum are selectively critizing him I also don't think the press takes kindly at having to compete for deference in order to get an interview with Palin.

The brazenness and cockiness of the claims the past week have been shocking - even by Republican standards. To Josh's point literally nothing that came out of Palin's mouth was true. Apparently she even lied about being Miss Congeniality. In the Internet age - with a fired up populace, this is just not going to stand. 60 days seems like a sprint but it is in fact a very long time to shape a public opinion.

Posted by: jomo on September 9, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Since both Biden and Obama voted FOR the bridge to nowhere, this line of attack seems to me to be an avenue to nowhere, IMHO.

Posted by: Helen on September 9, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

If you don't have a good vice president to pick, you just make one up.

What's so wrong with that?

Posted by: doubtful on September 9, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

The bridge is not the issue, Helen. It's the habitual lying that's the issue.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on September 9, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK
Not wasting money on the bridge is the right call
She wasted MY money, asshole- she kept the federal $$.

And she had no qualms about ripping off the Alaska taxpayers for other stuff, like the "travel" money.

Posted by: on September 9, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

How do you know when Sarah Palin is lying?

Her lipstick is moving.

Posted by: Don B on September 9, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

How do you know when Sarah Palin is lying?

Her lipstick is moving.

Posted by: Don B on September 9, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

UGH. I'm starting to feel like Morgan Spurlock on the cover of the movie Super Size Me. The fries being representative of Sarah Palin.

Posted by: EvilPoet on September 9, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

The only way revelations like these will bear any fruit is if we can sloganize them the way Republicans did with "Al Gore invented the Internet" and so forth. It's the only thing low-info voters understand.

We need to paint these folks as power mad and money hungry. For instance: "McCain/Palin/Bush wants you to cut their taxes."

Posted by: chrenson on September 9, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Would someone who is protective about spending money charge the state for per-diem 312 times (in a 19 month term) for sleeping at her own house -- including even Thanksgiving Day?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090803088.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: democrat on September 9, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

In hindsight it's interesting that the press smackdown didn't occur on the bridge thing initially. That seems to have enabled McCain to get cocky and put it in an ad.

Posted by: jomo on September 9, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

From NY Times, 22 Sept 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin ordered state transportation officials to abandon the ''bridge to nowhere'' project that became a nationwide symbol of federal pork-barrel spending. The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island. ''Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport,'' Ms. Palin, a Republican, said in a news release, ''but the $398 million bridge is not the answer.'' She directed the State Transportation Department to find the most ''fiscally responsible'' alternative for access to the airport.

From McCain ad...

...she stopped the bridge to nowhere...

Sounds pretty straight-forward to me.

Posted by: SJRSM on September 9, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

When will Democrats realize that the corporate-owned mass media is not some neutral party, performing a public service by impartially and accurately informing voters about the candidates and their proposals?

The corporate-owned mass media is the propaganda arm of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. and as such it promotes their agenda of ruthless, rapacious class warfare against everyone else.

And that agenda includes putting right-wing Republicans like Cheney, Bush, McCain and Palin in positions of political power.

If the mass media does begin to call out the Rove-Palin campaign on their brazen, sickening, preposterous lies, it won't be out of principle. It won't be because the media's vapid pundits and "on-air personalities" who play journalists on TV can't stomach it any more (they have aided and abetted far worse lies from Cheney and Bush and are very well paid to choke back any shreds of decency that might give them unease over their betrayal of America).

No, if the mass media begins to go after Rove-Palin's lies, it will indicate that at least some elements of America's corporate aristocracy have begun to think that a Palin-McCain administration might be so corrupt, incompetent, divisive and reckless that it could threaten even their interests, and they are considering whether to bite the bullet and accept Obama's proposed Clinton-era tax rates and a modest transfer of wealth to the middle class as the price of having some competent, technocratic managers in charge of the government.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

What do you mean "largely a media creation"? How about totally? After all this time and the overwhelmeing evidence that's been established as to each and every one of the alleged "exaggerations," liberals are still such chicken-shits that they have to hedge their bets?

Posted by: urban legend on September 9, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell, if she is so fiscally responsible, why then did she leave her town of Wassilla (is that even the name?) in debt to the tune of several million dollars after her mayoral term? Oh, by the way, the town had a surplus before she began her term.

Seriously, it's not even worth debating the issues with you people. You are wrong. The last 8 years have proven your ideology is a fraud. There is no debate, you people failed, and you lost.

Posted by: on September 9, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Palin ultimately killed the bridge project - even if she was in favor of it in the beginning.

Nonsense. The project was killed because congress refused to fund it. It had never been her intention to build it with Alaskan funds.

Posted by: Danp on September 9, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Steve LaB @10:28--you're SO right, I completely forgot that in my pre-coffee elitist fog.

DonB @10:37--you almost made my coffee come out my nose; thanks for the morning snark!

O/T: is it just me, or does it seem a little fishy that they still won't let her appear without John to chaperone? BO is in Ohio and Virginia today, while JB is in Missouri. And has she given a single speech that wasn't on a teleprompter yet?

Posted by: Michigoose on September 9, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

as was pointed out on olberman's show last night the republicans are creating the sarah palin mythology, and the base of voters they're appealing to have a proven track record of voting based on belief, not facts.

also, obama said that they are trying to make this a culture war, and he's going to stick to the issues. i hope he's right.

Posted by: entheo on September 9, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "Sounds pretty straight-forward to me."

It is a straightforward lie.

Palin supported, promoted and campaigned on her support for the bridge.

She canceled it only after Congress cut off any further funding -- which meant there wasn't going to be enough money to build it anyway -- and the bridge had become a national embarrassment.

And she kept the money that had already been appropriated, and spent it for purposes other than those for which it was appropriated.

Sarah Palin is a liar and a fraud. But we already know that liars and frauds are extremely popular with Republican voters.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Corporate media will not do journalism - but what they WILL do is repeat what the candidates say ad nauseam.

So Obama is mistaken in asking the media to do more scrutiny - what he needs to do is get Democrats to go on TV and point out the lies.

Posted by: Ohioan on September 9, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if that little lie about winning Miss Congeniality can't be nailed down. It is really a huge part of her story and the symbolism of her lying about it is huge.

Posted by: Mary on September 9, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Since both Biden and Obama voted FOR the bridge to nowhere, this line of attack seems to me to be an avenue to nowhere, IMHO.

This should go without saying for sentient human beings but the point is, of course, not the Bridge to Nowhere. The point is that the McCain campaign is making the political argument that it should be elected based upon a claim that is the opposite of the truth.

The whole earmarks discussion is bullshit. They constitute a tiny part of the Federal budget and fund a lot of projects that most people would consider worthwhile. While I agree that the process of earmarking ought to be more transparent - a couple of proposals by Obama to make this so were filibustered by Republicans by the way - there is nothing inherently unethical about earmarking. But if one claims to be a maverick and a reformer and the basis of that claim is that you were against a certain earmark, the fact that the claim isn't true ought to count against you.

Posted by: brent on September 9, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

TPM has a nice video up on this. Very effective as an ad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieuA7nAOBXQ

Could the conservative trolls here please watch that video and try to spin away what Palin is shown saying? I could use a laugh.

Posted by: TR on September 9, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

SJRSM - Your newspaper quote is from 2007.

Palin campaigned as governor supporting the bridge to nowhere. She took office as governor of Alaska in 2006, unable to say no thanks to the bridge to nowhere earmark, because that earmark hadn’t existed for over a year. Alaska spent the $442 million in transportation funds; so she didn’t say no thanks to that either.

Posted by: Ohioan on September 9, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

The claim that Obama and Biden voted for the bridge to nowhere is a lie. By the time it reached the Senate floor as part of a much larger bill, opposition to this boondogle had forced Ted Stevens to change the appropriation so that it did not specify that the bridge had to be built, as it had before. This is the way Sarah Palin drained that money out of Washington and spent it on her state, at the same time giving Alaskans a rebate-- spending Washington money and going into debt to buy popularity.

The idea that Sarah Palin is in any way a fiscal conservative is laughable. When she became mayor her town had a balanced budget. She left it in debt, spending taxpayer money to build an elaborate indoor hockey rink on land whose title was in dispute. That was her big achievement. The town is still in litigation over it, spending hundreds of thousands a year unnecessarily. Also during her mayorship she received 27 million dollars in earmarks.

She was in favor of the bridge to nowhere so long as it was federal money-- earmarks. She saluted Alaska's delegation for bringing so much money to the state from Washington. She spoke of a "window of opportunity" during which Alakan Senators and representatives were well placed to get earmarks.

No informed sane person could vote for her. She attended meetings of a seccessionist party in the 90s, and addressed them last year. She is a brazen liar on mattters of public policy. The last thing this country needs is another arrogant, oil state- ignorance-is-bliss buffoon as president. Have the Republicans no shame? Has the media no substance whatsoever, that they fail to call this strutting phony out for what she is?

Posted by: Dan on September 9, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Palin ultimately killed the bridge project - even if she was in favor of it in the beginning.

General question: Is it possible to support McCain/Palin while restricting oneself to just the truth?

I mean, I enjoy fiction and mythology as much as anyone else. I loved Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars (the first two movies anyway), and a bunch of other stuff. But anyone who would use the "enjoys stories" part of their brain to decide on public policy issues is just a complete idiot.

So, yeah, sure. There are a lot of fictional stories and simplistic narratives floating around. But what if you limited yourself to actual facts concerning actual things that happened in actual reality. How do you support McCain/Palin in this context? Is it even possible?

The constant stream of outright bullshit from people like Orwell (and others) strongly suggests that it isn't.

Posted by: DH Walker on September 9, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

caught a piece on the cbs news this morning, and they actually came right out and said that this claim was a lie. yeah, actually said it was a lie.

this is just the beginning, imho......

about time

orange

Posted by: just bill on September 9, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

did anyone notice too the newest comedy lie by the corporate pimp called chris matthews where he pretends that palin is like 'norma raye' the union organizer ? total fucking make believe and yet here is the corporate used cunt called matthews doing his best to help the cause .... someone, anyone, should force fit a pair of DEPENDS on his head so that every time that it 'speaks' all will know exactly what is coming out of it's mouth ..........

Posted by: stormskies on September 9, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I was reserching the per capita pork and alaska always hovers around 500 per person per person along with DC The rest of the lower 48 not so much around the $20 mark http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-03-22-earmarks_N.htm

Posted by: John R on September 9, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

We continue to let McCain control the message day after day with lies about Palin that distract us from his shortcomings. McCain is not a war hero because if all of our pilots acted like spoiled, (he would never been accepted into the Naval Academy without pressure from his admiral father) drunken (Air Force guys say he was drunk the night before he was shot down) playboys in the service of their country we would lose all our wars. A question for America; Would you let someone who graduated at the bottom of his class in college manage your retirement savings? Then why elect him President?

We have to control the message or we will lose.

Posted by: TNB on September 9, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

It just destroys the urban left when heartland sensibilities are in ascension. You guys always act startled, if not miffed, when the majority of Americans remind you that we don't believe that a handful of heavily populated urban areas should control our country. You people can't control violence, crime, civil responsibility (people ignoring their neighbors pleas for help).

The secular progressive paradigm has caught the clap and is trying to give it to everyone else before they get the cure they are running from: two big needles full of antibiotics in their collective (pun intended) hind end, named John McCain and Sarah Palin!

Posted by: rural americans on September 9, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I have no idea whether or not Obama and Biden voted for the Bridge to Nowhere. Who cares? Whatever they voted on the relevant bill, they're not lying about the positions they took on the bridge and then presenting these lies as their primary qualifications for national office.

It's also deceptive to focus on the bridge as the key example of Palin's opposition to earmarks, because this opposition does not actually exist. If you stand one your head, close one eye, and turn out the lights, there might be a way to convince yourself that any particular statement Palin has made about the bridge is technically not a complete fabrication, but you're still missing the big picture. The Bridge to Nowhere lie is not an isolated thing, it's intended to help create this entirely fictitious idea of Sarah Palin as an anti-pork reformer.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on September 9, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

It just destroys the urban left when heartland sensibilities are in ascension.

Lying, incompetence, hatred, and fascist political theories are "heartland values"?

Really?

Posted by: DH Walker on September 9, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 9, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats accuse Republicans of lying whenever Democrats lose an election- not an uncommon phenomenon.

It's refreshing to see you admit that Republicans regularly lie to win elections.

Posted by: DH Walker on September 9, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

How about the slogan,
McCain/Palin
The hot ticket that keeps on burning!!!!

Posted by: Beau on September 9, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Air Force guys say he was drunk the night before he was shot down
Posted by: TNB

Moron

Considering he was in the Navy and flying off a ship, Air Force guys wouldn't have the slightest clue.

Posted by: SJRSM on September 9, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Alaska has been draining the US Treasury for years. They get almost $2 back for every dollar they send to the federal government.

AND they take 75% OFF THE TOP for every barrel of oil produced in Alaska.

They are STICKING IT to the lower 48 (plus Hawaii). OF COURSE she wants to drill more - she wants a bigger check from the rest of us.

I say, let them friggin secede, and do it before November.

___________________
John McCain is the is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being America has ever known.

Posted by: The Manchurian Electorate on September 9, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM:

For the record that is the rumor from the Enid, Ok Air Force Base which I heard from rightwing Republicans like yourself. The point is to attack his strong points with the methods that work for them. Now go back to the rightwing blogs where you came from and stop trying to influence our discussion.

Posted by: TNB on September 9, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

rural americans" wrote: "... we don't believe that a handful of heavily populated urban areas should control our country."

If you believe that putting Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin in power gives rural Americans "control" of "our country" then you are exactly the sort of gullible dupe that the Republican Party loves to bamboozle with bullshit during election campaigns, and screw over bigtime the rest of the time.

Sarah Palin and John McCain think the American people are stupid. You are proud to prove them right.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "I've been annoying locals here since back when ..."

Spoken like a true troll, who has no other purpose than to impress himself with his ability to annoy other people with bullshit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"rural americans" wrote: "... we don't believe that a handful of heavily populated urban areas should control our country."

When have the heavily populated urban areas EVER controlled the country? The makeup of Senate and Electoral College mean just the opposite -- the sparsely populated areas are OVER-represented in our government. Just ask President Gore, Dukakis, or Kerry.

_________________
John McCain is the is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being America has ever known.

Posted by: The Manchurian Electorate on September 9, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry that the truth annoys you, secular.

Would that be the truth like Sarah Palin gives it to us in her speechifyin', or truth like John Roberts offers us in his "facts are negotiable" interviewing? Your truth score's about even with theirs today.

SecAn is right, though; you don't have a purpose here or on any blog, regardless of its political leanings, other than a childlike desire for negative attention. You don't defend or promote anything except Swiftboaters; you can't defend the last eight years or your humiliating decision to double down on your bad bets by voting for McCain, so you hope to feel better by acting out your palpable anger and confusion here.

Not a very worthy goal for an ostensibly grown and stable man.

Many former military folk who've been outed instead of upped find satisfying second careers in private security or scoutmastering. Have you considered making better use of your days guarding shopping malls or sharing your otherworldly interest in reading scat with impressionable young boys?

Posted by: shortstop on September 9, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Bridge To Nowhere story shows how dishonest she is. The Mat Maid story shows that she is incompetent and corrupt. As usual, there is a whole lot of firing going on.

She's Donald Trump on steroids. When you pull the string on Barracuda Barbie it should say, 'Your fired!'.

Posted by: John Henry on September 9, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Is it me or is the Wall Street Journal one of the few outlets actually paying attention to how bad Palins record is?

Posted by: John Henry on September 9, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Right, I forgot. You're posting "from garrison" again. Wink.

Probably just as well that you're too far gone to know just how sad that pretense made you look.

Thanks for the offer of help with the laundry, but I folded it at 5:00 a.m. before I started work. Short night, but I usually sleep well because I have a few immutable beliefs in things, rather than just disbelieving in my own and everybody else's stuff in a fog of bewildered anger. What could life be like for you if you lived it not continually shrinking in embarrassment and rage from your own choices? I guess we'll never know.

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