Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Wonder If Sarah Palin Ever Read in 2005?

I've been mulling the following exchange from Sarah Palin's interview this week:
CHARLIE GIBSON: But you were for [the bridge to nowhere] before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time .... until Congress pulled the plug.

PALIN: What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now.
It sounds innocent enough, but something seems fishy to me about the airport excuse, so I decided to root around some of the local bloggers who have opposed pork (sorry I have to add this disclaimer, but times being what they are: no reference to Sarah Palin intended in any of these pig references). Back in 2005, Bill Hobbs quoted one of his readers and he seemed to express agreement that it is frightful that the airport could be used to justify the bridge to nowhere:
From a reader's email:
Today's Wall Street Journal contains a letter from Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska rebutting an article or editorial on the "Bridge to Nowhere." She lays out the best case possible, citing the natural resources to be developed on the island and the amount of maritime commerce done there.

Then she points out that residents of the area have been asking for a bridge for thirty years, "ever since the federal government built an airport on the island." WHAT? That's when I lost it. Why did the federal government build an airport on this island 30 years ago? My guess is the argument was that the island needed a taxpayer-funded airport because it didn't have a taxpayer-funded bridge to get there. The sad part is that she probably didn't realize how pathetic she sounded. Pork being used to justify pork. It's a frightful culture in Washington.
That it is.
I guess times and people change. Back in 2005, the prospect of using the porkbarrel airport as justification for the porkbarrel bridge to nowhere was frightening for a conservative blogger. Now that Bill Hobbs is in charge of communications of Tennessee's Republican Party, he does not seem too frightened by Palin's use of the justification. In fact, Hobbs is now defending her performance in the ABC interview and rationalizing that she did stop the bridge to nowhere.

A couple of weeks after the "frightful" post, Hobbs quoted another blogger bemoaning the same fact that many Palin critics, 3 years later, are decrying: that Sarah Palin was still getting the earmark money even though the bridge was 86'ed by Congress:
Radley Balko says despite this victory, it means very little to the real porkbusting efforts:
All the conference committee did was remove the earmark for the bridges. Alaska will still be getting the same obscene amount of money from the federal government, it's just that the state won't be required to use it to build those two particular bridges. It'll be up to the executive and the state legislature to decide how to spend it.
Again it is evident in Hobbs' remarks that his sympathy is with the critic of the Alaskan earmark. The fact that Sarah Palin would still be getting the money to spend to build something to a porkbarrel airport seemed to make the victory a hollow one.

So, in 2008, why can't Sarah Palin's critics demand that she be more accountable for her use of earmarks and take some of the responsibility for supporting the bridge to nowhere? Why should we not question as Bill Hobbs did in 2005 whether using the airport is a good excuse for accepting the earmarks? Why should we now lend Sarah Palin's defense any credence if we're not communications officials of the Republican Party, which has made the mistake of nominating her?

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