McCain Campaign Not Sleaziest!

One of the sillier memes trotted out in recent days is that John McCain’s campaign has been unusually dirty. Politico‘s David Mark and Avi Zenilman have asked the experts and learned otherwise.

David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s chief strategist, said Sunday that John McCain is running the “sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history.” It was a line trotted out all weekend by various Obama staffers as part of an effort to portray the Republican nominee as a purveyor of the slimiest tactics in recent memory.

Yet presidential historians and political scientists interviewed by Politico scoffed at the notion, suggesting McCain’s approach is no harsher than those used in previous modern campaigns and certainly not by comparison to many historic campaigns.

“The idea that this campaign is the sleaziest ever is absurd,” said David Greenberg, a professor of history and media studies at Rutgers who has written books on Presidents Coolidge and Nixon. “In fact, there’s been very little that’s below the belt, and aides have been fired on all sides when they’ve gotten near, let alone crossed, the lines. There’s nothing at all to rival the Swift-boating of Kerry in 2004, the imputations of un-Americanness to Dukakis in 1988, the anti-Catholic stuff against Al Smith in 1928 and the regular resort to slander and character assassination of so many 19th-century campaigns.”

That we’re even asking the question demonstrates that Team Obama has gotten traction with the charge. And, indeed, “Not History’s Sleaziest!” is hardly a winning message.

But, like so many of the charges and counter-charges in this cycle, the idea is simply absurd. The campaign has been particularly silly — a function of instant analysis and constant spin — but among the cleanest I can recall. Obama’s race and McCain’s war hero status both serve to put a lot of attacks out of bounds and require attacks, at least by principals, to be prefaced with nice words.

Has McCain’s campaign been more negative than Obama’s to date? It’s not clear to me how one keeps score but it does rather seem that way. Then again, that would be expected: McCain has been running from behind most of the contest and going negative is the time honored way to play catch-up.

Indeed, now that the polls show the race to be a dead heat, Team Obama has dumped the sunny talk of “hope” and gone aggressively on the offensive. That’s what campaigns do. They also whine a lot when the other side’s attacks gain traction.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Rick DeMent says:

    Yes this is non-sense, the election of 1800 far worse, it had Federalists charging that the Democratic-Republicans would murder their opponents, burn churches, and destroy the country.

    Oh wait ….

  2. Redhand says:

    But, like so many of the charges and counter-charges in this cycle, the idea is simply absurd.

    Sadly, no. I’ve never seen a presidential campaign like McCain’s recycle so many lies, even after being called on them. I’ve been a keen observer of politics for over 45 years, and McCain’s campaign is right at the bottom of the garbage can.

    Say what you want, the one constant theme in the McCain campaign is winning by lying.

  3. sam says:

    Has McCain’s campaign been more negative than Obama’s to date? It’s not clear to me how one keeps score but it does rather seem that way.

    See, that was McCain’s problem. Somehow the Straight Talk Express became the Straight Bullshit Express, and folks noticed.

  4. Anybody who thinks either side is particularly negative in this election has never lived in Alabama. Compared to Alabama politics, this is positively tame.

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    They also whine a lot when the other side’s attacks gain traction.

    Perhaps Axelrod is trying to give a new definition to sleaziest, i.e. most effective.

  6. Boyd says:

    Axelrod is doing what campaigns do: lie exaggerate. I would expect no less from any presidential campaign of either major party.

    On the other hand, those who have been around for more than a few presidential campaign cycles and believe the crap that Axelrod is spewing either weren’t paying attention or are deluding themselves. This isn’t tame just compared to Alabama politics, it’s tame compared to presidential politics in general.

  7. Tad says:

    I fail to see the real controversy here, every election some one claims this about the other side.

    The real story I think is that this time it should actually have some traction. Being able to legitimately point to things that McCain/Palin are saying that are clearly lies goes directly to his core honorable image. I expect the Obama campaign will harp on this for the remainder of the election, the whole “McCain not who you thought he was” message.

  8. bains says:

    …I’ve never seen a presidential campaign like McCain’s recycle so many lies, even after being called on them. I’ve been a keen observer of politics for over 45 years…

    Keen? Do you want to be taken seriously?

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Outside the Beltway:

    Not the Sleaziest Blog!

  10. Brett says:

    I think there’s been some elements that have been pretty nasty, like the viral “Obama is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate” e-mail slander. But the historians are mostly right; this isn’t a particularly nasty campaign as far as American presidential campaigns go.

  11. bains says:

    I think there’s been some elements that have been pretty nasty, like the viral “Obama is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate” e-mail slander.

    There is a huge difference between what a candidate, and by extention, his or her surrogates say, and what is stated by non-affiliated partisans.

  12. steve says:

    The actual campaigns have not been especially sleazy. The blogosphere commentariat certainly have been.

    The McCain lying is kind of breaking new ground. Usually once a candidate is caught lying, they back off. McCain/Palin just keep repeating them. Will be interesting to see if they work.

    Steve

  13. Houston says:

    There are several posters here – I’ll point out Redhand, Sam, steve – who seem to state as a given fact that McCain has lied, repeatedly, on several topics about Obama. I guess I’m mis-informed – can you give some examples, or is this in itself another examaple of a “sleazy” tactic?

  14. just me says:

    I think even in my lifetime it isn’t the sleaziest.

    I think there are some things at work-McCain I think has probably been more negative-at least with the ads, but then the reality is that negative ads work, and he has been running as the challenger.

    I think the other issue is that Obama has done a nice job of getting the negatives about McCain out there but keeping his hands for the most part clean. I think a lot of Obama surrogates have said some pretty sleazy things, but they were just separated enough that Obama had some plausible deniability.

    I think Obama needs to be careful with the “sleaziest” charges though-because at some point he sounds like a whiner-I mean McCain’s attacks haven’t been all that horrible, or cruel and so far the “racism” Obama keeps promising hasn’t shown up. I think Obama ends up making himself weak if he tries to play the victim too much-especially since the sleaziest thing done so far in this campaign was the whole Trigg Palin is really his sister’s child blah blah blah stuff. Obama is certainly separated enough from that bit of sleaze to claim innocence but in light of that it is kind of tough to say McCain is sleazy.

    Oh and I think this probably won’t be the sleaziest campaign by the time it is all over, but I expect to see both sides engage in quite a bit more negative advertising and the real sleaze will come into play when the 527’s show up.

  15. cian says:

    The McCain lying is kind of breaking new ground. Usually once a candidate is caught lying, they back off. McCain/Palin just keep repeating them. Will be interesting to see if they work.

    Got it in one, Steve. When the gals on The View call you out for the dishonesty of ads you’ve endorsed, something is happening.

    But more serious for McCain, I think, is his campaign’s statements about the media not being relevant anymore. That may be true, but they’ll go down fighting.

    Who’ll win? Time will tell, but for the moment, and if the polls are correct, McCain’s doing just fine.

  16. anjin-san says:

    I just keep coming back to the fact that while our economy was picking up speed going down the slippery slope, McCain was focused like a laser on Paris Hilton.

  17. Dantheman says:

    Houston,

    Examples of repeated lies of McCain where he continues to repeat them after they have been proven false include that Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere from the beginning, that Obama intended to call Palin a pig, that Palin’s foreign policy experience includes a visit to Ireland (when all she did was sit on the plane while it refueled), and that Alaska produces 20% of the nation’s energy which makes Palin the most qualified person in the country on the subject of energy (not even 20% of domestic oil, far less of any other type of energy).

    This isn’t the sleaziest campaign of my lifetime, but the fact that the so-called liberal media has made repeated lying cost-free through false equivalencies means it’s not going to get better.

  18. Crust says:

    What Steve said. Dissembling, even outright lying, is not new. But continuing to repeat a lie even after getting called on it, that is new. Certainly a pervasive — and presumably deliberate — pattern of doing that is new. “Sleazy” is probably not the right adjective to describe that. But “least honorable”, I can see the case.

  19. DL says:

    I have two grandsons that sit in thd back seat of the van and one hits the other without reason and when the victim hits back, the first cries that he hit me. What else is new? Obama and the left will say and do (or get someone else to do it for them) whatever needs to be done – dirty is okay if it results in winning.

  20. bains says:

    …but the fact that the so-called liberal media has made repeated lying cost-free through false equivalencies…

    Reverse “engineering” the definition of lying used in your list gives us a definition that then is equally damning towards Obama.

    I suspect the media isn’t using your hyper-partisan definition for the obvious reasons.

  21. Dantheman says:

    “Reverse “engineering” the definition of lying used in your list gives us a definition that then is equally damning towards Obama.”

    Give me a bains-to-English dictionary, stat.

  22. Crust says:

    Megan McArdle re Palin still pushing the malfunctioning teleprompter line:

    What I don’t get about this lie is the pointlessness. I expect politicians to lie. But I expect them to tell the standard sort of lies about how they will give us all $5 solar cars by 2010, and never, ever sleep with their staff. This seems like some sort of bizarre compulsive disorder.

  23. anjin-san says:

    “Two years ago, I warned that the oversight of Fannie and Freddie was terrible, that we were facing a crisis because of it, or certainly serious problem.”

    — Sen. John McCain, in an interview earlier today, via ABC News.

    “So, I’d like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not.”

    — McCain, in an interview with Keene Sentinel on the mortgage crisis in December 2007.

  24. bains says:

    Cute.

    Seeing as you are the only one to at least address the question, I’ll continue. A lie as defined by Websters is “an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive.”

    Now you say McCain,

    continues to repeat them after they have been proven false include that Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere from the beginning…

    First, show where McCain, or Palin, or anyone else associated with the campaign stated the Palin opposed the bridge to nowhere from the beginning. Then show where the same group continues (note present tense) to state this.

    Please to the same for the other examples you list, in particular, your assertion that they continue to do so.

    Since I have found no example of this, I must conclude that you are using a different definition for to lie, and lying than most people do including me, and the media.

    FWIW, I find equally off-putting when those from the other side claim everything Obama says is a lie and McCain words are as pure as falling snow.

  25. Crust says:

    Bains, Palin has said again and again that she “said thanks, but no thanks to Congress” on the Bridge to Nowhere. It’s a standard part of her stump speech (except that she drops it when speaking to audiences in Alaska).

    But she never said “no thanks” or really anything to Congress on this bridge. Her statement is simply false under any remotely plausible parsing. You can see Bob Somerby for the details.

    (And since it is about her own her own history she surely knows it to be true. And since she says it in prepared speeches and repeatedly it was not a momentary slip. It’s a lie. A lie she and the McCain campaign can’t seem to stop repeating.)

  26. Houston says:

    Examples of repeated lies of McCain where he continues to repeat them after they have been proven false include that Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere from the beginning…

    As I’m sure you know, this bridge was never her idea; it was originally proposed long before she was Governor. As Mayor, she may or may not have supported original GOP funding efforts, I’m not really sure, but at best this point is open to debate. I do know that it was not included in the first budget she proposed as Governor. So as Governor, she said “No thanks.”

    …that Obama intended to call Palin a pig….

    Who knows what was inside his mind when he said it? Answer me this: what do you think the people in the audience immediately thought? And how many times has McCain or Palin accused him of meaning it?

    …that Palin’s foreign policy experience includes a visit to Ireland (when all she did was sit on the plane while it refueled)….

    I don’t know anything about the Ireland trip; never heard of it, so I’m assuming it’s not much.

    …and that Alaska produces 20% of the nation’s energy which makes Palin the most qualified person in the country on the subject of energy (not even 20% of domestic oil, far less of any other type of energy).

    This was pretty likely a misspoken statistic. According to the Alaska Resource Development Council, over the last several years, Alaska has accounted for on average 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production.

    Wow, these are lies? That’s pretty weak. I’ll be generous, some of these points are debatable, but if this is all you’ve got…I think we’re a far distance from “sleazy.”

  27. Tad says:

    First, show where McCain, or Palin, or anyone else associated with the campaign stated the Palin opposed the bridge to nowhere from the beginning. Then show where the same group continues (note present tense) to state this.

    My understand of the opposing of the bridge in terms on timing is that she didn’t oppose it until it was clear congress wasn’t going to give it to her.

    It seems pretty clear that one can’t ‘oppose’ something that isn’t going to happen. Calling it ‘wasteful spending’ only after the rest of the country does and it has become abundantly clear you aren’t getting the money isn’t ‘opposed.’

    Not to mention that she still kept the money and used some of it to build a road to the bridge site, in what way shape or form is that opposed.

    Besides do you really think anyone under the sun buys the ‘tense of the verb defense’ your peddling. Its clear what she was/is implying, and its just as clear that its not true.

  28. anjin-san says:

    This was pretty likely a misspoken statistic

    That’s a pretty big mistake for someone McCain is touting as one of the nation’s leading experts on energy policy.

  29. Tad says:

    This was pretty likely a misspoken statistic. According to the Alaska Resource Development Council, over the last several years, Alaska has accounted for on average 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production.

    well according to the energy information administration that not true at all either.

    data compiled by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) contradict her claim that she oversees “nearly 20 percent” of oil and gas production in the country. According to authoritative EIA data, Alaska accounted for 7.4 percent of total U.S. oil and gas production in 2005. It is not even correct for Palin to claim that her state is responsible for “nearly 20 percent” of U.S. oil production. Oil production has fallen sharply in Alaska during her governorship. The state’s share of total U.S. oil production fell from 18 percent in 2005 to 13 percent this year, according to the EIA.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/16/AR2008091603406.html

    Given that McCain claimed she knows more than anyone else in the country about energy policy when he introduced her it seems to me that being off by a factor of 3 after assuming she ‘mispoke’ and meant domestic production this seems like a more significant line.

    What makes these things lies though isn’t the original statement its repeating the statement after it’s been pointed out as untrue.

    Anyone can make mistakes or just be flat out wrong, but after it’s pointed out that your wrong its definitely a lie when you repeat it.

  30. Crust says:

    Bains, you’re right by the way that Dantheman’s presentation of the Bridge to Nowhere lie was off somewhat. But of course the real subject of interest here is Palin (and McCain and their campaign) not Dantheman (or you or me). Do you dispute that Palin was lying and continues to lie (or at least did so until very recently)? Here is the original version of her statement:

    I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that bridge to nowhere.

    (APPLAUSE)

    If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves.

    If you think that’s not a lie, please explain how you parse that “I told Congress” bit. And explain how you reconcile that with her (accurate) earlier explanation to Alaskans as to why she was flip-flopping on her support for the bridge:

    It’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island

    As for her (and McCain and their campaign) repeating the lie over and over, here’s a list. (And yes I agree TP is hardly a non-partisan site but the quotes speak for themselves.) Here’s a recent version from Sept. 15:

    And that infamous Bridge to Nowhere, I did tell Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” — if we wanted a bridge up there we were going to build it ourselves.

  31. anjin-san says:

    The McCain/Palin intention is very clear. Repeat a lie often enough, and it can become perceived as the truth. Very few voters spend the time we do in here combing thru links and demanding documentation.

    Bottom line is that they do not care if what they are saying is true as long as they can fool enough people.

    This is not to say that Democrats can’t lie like rugs when it suits them. But Bush took it to a new level, and McCain is building on his work.

  32. Crust says:

    In retrospect, I suppose there is a way to parse Palin’s statement as truthful. All you need to do is read “Congress” for “I” and “me” for “Congress” then:

    And that infamous Bridge to Nowhere, I did tell Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks”

    becomes:

    And that infamous Bridge to Nowhere, Congress did tell me, “Thanks, but no thanks”

    Presto, problem solved.

  33. cian says:

    Crust,

    You’ve got to remember, the bridge to nowhere lie works for Bains because, as far as he’s concerned, the WMD lie, the yellow cake lie, the Al Qaeda/Saddam connection lie, the ‘everyone thought the levees would hold’ lie, the ‘we don’t torture’ lie (do I need to go on) all worked. Up to a point. Eventually Bush admitted most were untrue. What’s really exciting about this new gang is that even when the lie has been exposed, they keep telling it anyway. For republicans that’s a real leap forward.

  34. bains says:

    My understand of the opposing of the bridge in terms on timing is that she didn’t oppose it until it was clear congress wasn’t going to give it to her.

    On Wednesday November 16, 2005 : Congress stripped the specific earmark allocation of federal funds for the two bridges in the bill, without changing the amount of money allocated for use by Alaska.

    Palin did not take office til Dec 2006. Admittedly, Palin supported the Gravina Island Bridge even past her inauguration. BUT, she did run on a campaign of fiscal responsibility, and on

    Jan 17, 2007, she sent a revised budget to the President of the Alaska Senate that would restrict capital spending, to live with their means, and recinded the $185M state share of the bridge funding.

    In other words, Alaska already had the all the financing in place prior to Palin. Had she done nothing, the Gravina bridge could have, and may have been built. By rescinding state funding, Governor Palin killed it. Now you can argue it was a mercy killing (and I would not offer counter arguement), but you can not argue that it was not her hand that wielded the axe.

  35. Crust says:

    Right wing Alaskan radio host Dan Fagan:

    Republicans scold me all the time, “You don’t want Obama to win do you? Stop criticizing Palin!”

    My question to my conservative friends is simple. Does the truth still matter?

    Says it all. (Full disclosure: Fagan is actually talking about Troopergate, not the Bridge to Nowhere or any of the other specifics we’re talking about here. But I think the sentiment still applies.)

  36. Houston says:

    Speaking of lies….

    ABC: In Golden, Colo., today, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., took credit for the stimulus package that passed earlier this year.

    “In January, I outlined a plan to help revive our faltering economy,” Obama said, “which formed the basis for a bipartisan stimulus package that passed the Congress.”

    Is that true?

    Democrats on Capitol Hill who support Obama say no. Wanting Obama to win, however, none will say so on the record.

    But media accounts from the time make it clear that even though Obama, Clinton and McCain all offered legislation to provide stimulus to the economy, congressional leaders looped them and their legislation out of negotiations.

    How long till will this lie live?

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/obama-inflates.html

  37. Crust says:

    Bains @3:35 PM: I agree with every word you wrote there. She did ultimately kill the bridge (despite have earlier campaigned on it) by deciding not to spend state funds on it. But that had nothing to do with earmarks, saying “no thanks” to Congress or “[i]f our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves.” Seriously, do you have an answer to my question about how you think she said “no thanks” to Congress? (I’m assuming you disagree that her statement is a lie.) This is not a technicality. It’s the heart of what makes this story appeal to voters in the other 49 states. Too bad it’s not true.

    As an aside, she did still spend some federal funds on the Bridge to Nowhere. IIRC, there was a separate earmark for the access road on the island side. Since she would lose those federal funds if she didn’t build it, she went ahead.

  38. Houston says:

    Speaking of Sleaze….

    Obama Aired More Negative Ads Last Week

    Despite perceptions that McCain has spent more time on the attack, Obama aired more negative advertising last week than did the Arizona senator, says a new study released today.

    77% of Obama’s commercials were negative during the week after the Republican convention, compared to 56% of the spots run by McCain.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/17/obama_airs_more_negative_ads_s.html

    Can we stop this drivel about McCain lying now?

  39. Tad says:

    Jan 17, 2007, she sent a revised budget to the President of the Alaska Senate that would restrict capital spending, to live with their means, and recinded the $185M state share of the bridge funding.

    In other words, Alaska already had the all the financing in place prior to Palin. Had she done nothing, the Gravina bridge could have, and may have been built. By rescinding state funding, Governor Palin killed it. Now you can argue it was a mercy killing (and I would not offer counter arguement), but you can not argue that it was not her hand that wielded the axe.

    I don’t think I follow how that means that she ‘opposed’ the bridge. I read that as pretty clear acceptance of loss. Yes, the state had money set aside but not enough for the bridge. Yes, she stopped the state’s own wasteful spending, but only after congress wouldn’t give her the rest. Granted at least she didn’t go ahead with the project wasting only Alaska money. Hardly taking a stand, much less opposing something.

  40. Crust says:

    Obama Aired More Negative Ads Last Week … Can we stop this drivel about McCain lying now?

    Houston, “negative attack” and “lie” are not synonyms. Negative attacks can be truthful and positive claims (e.g. “And that infamous Bridge to Nowhere, I did tell Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks””) can be false. This is not complicated.

  41. Tad says:

    Speaking of Sleaze….

    Can we stop this drivel about McCain lying now?

    Only if you explain how going negative is either Sleaze or a lie.

  42. rodney dill says:

    The Troopergate is well on its way to being discredited. In all likelyhood Fagan was criticizing without knowing all the facts, but he would also know he couldn’t have had all the facts, so I don’t see where he can come off saying, ‘Does the truth still matter.’

    Bains got most of it right about the supposed ‘Bridge to Nowhere’

    Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Saturday that as projected costs for the Ketchikan bridge rose to nearly $400 million, administration officials were telling Ketchikan that the project looked less likely. Local leaders shouldn’t have been surprised when Palin announced she was turning to less-costly alternatives, Leighow said. Indeed, Leighow produced a report quoting Palin, late in the governor’s race, indicating she would also consider alternatives to a bridge.”

    The Obama/Biden pattern is very clear. Repeat a lie often enough, and it can become perceived as the truth.

  43. anjin-san says:

    The Troopergate is well on its way to being discredited.

    Guess that explains why the GOP now has a full court press stonewall going on the investigation.

  44. Crust says:

    rodney dill:

    In all [likelihood] Fagan was criticizing without knowing all the facts

    In all likelihood, you made that statement without reading what Fagan wrote.

  45. rodney dill says:

    I hadn’t read it as no link had been offered. After reading it, based on his derogatory attack tone against Palin and Palin’s staff I see that Fagan is even less interested in the truth than I had originally thought. Fagan obviously doesn’t have the facts or isn’t interested in representing them. Thanks for that.

  46. Crust says:

    rodney dill:

    [N]o link had been offered… Fagan obviously doesn’t have the facts or isn’t interested in representing them.

    Uh, if you look closely you’ll see you were offered a link on “Dan Fagan”.

  47. anjin-san says:

    After reading it, based on his derogatory attack tone against Palin and Palin’s staff

    Are you at all troubled by the derogatory attack tone Palin & Co. have taken against Monegan? Let’s review Mr. Monegan’s bio and ask ourselves if perhaps this former Marine and police officer deserves better:

    Professional Experience:
    Enlisted, United State Marine Corp, 1970
    Chief of Police, Anchorage Police Department.

    Political Experience:
    Commissioner of Public Safety, State of Alaska.

    Organizations:
    Alaska Safe Kids Project
    Member, Alaska Special Olympics State Board
    Member, Community Police Advisory Boards
    Salvation Army Booth Memorial Home.

    Caucuses/Non-Legislative Committees:
    Anchorage Sexual Assault Task Force
    Community Action for Drug Free Youth
    Ethnic Round Table
    Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Municipal Employee Fund Raising Campaign
    Mayor’s Task Force on Youth and Violence
    Municipality’s Diversity Council
    Northern Endeavor Team.

  48. Houston says:

    Shall we post Palin’s bio to compare? Look, the guy was a political appointee, he didn’t support the Governor’s policies, he didn’t like her personally, he went behind her back and hobnobbed with her political enemies…what would you expect her to do?

    This had nothing to do with Troopergate. Like I said the other day, this scandal will die a death of a thousand papercuts.

    And meanwhile, both campaigns are a bit loose with the truth. I think this horse has been sufficiently beaten.

  49. belloscm says:

    “Not to mention that she still kept the money and used some of it to build a road to the bridge site, in what way shape or form is that opposed.”

    Fact check on aisle 5!

    In 2006, and prior to Palin becoming Governor, the money ($223 million) that had previously been earmarked for the Gravina Island Bridge was allocated to the State of Alaska. Palin’s predecessor as Governor, Frank Murkowski, let the contract for the bridge access road (Gravina Island Highway) the week prior to Palin’s inauguration in Dec 2006.

    Murkowski “kept the money” and Palin neither started nor used part of the money to fund the access road project; The money was committed by Murkowski before she became Gov.

  50. bains says:

    Allow me to make a short story long.

    Way upthread I tried to make the point that partisans have a nasty tendency of flexible definitions; a flexibility that always favors their partisan point of view.

    To offer what may seem a silly anecdote, in my adolesance (around 5’6″ tall), my father was 6’0″ and my older brother grew to 6’1″. I fully expected to grow to at least 6’0″. Later, I stopped growing at 5’11”.

    Now the left likes to castigate the right as scrooges – always seeking to take money away from the needy. I have seen numerous cases where the left tries to claim the right has “cut” funding. Upon closer examination however, what the right has proposed is a reduction in the rate of increase. Project Z is presently funded at an annual rate of $60M, Dems want to increase that to $75M, GOP wants to increase it to $65M. All of a sudden the papers and the left (sorry to repeat) shreek that the GOP wants to cut funding to project Z by $10M.

    By that logic, genetics, or God, or something, cut my height by an inch.

    My own cynical view of politicians is that ALL have dishonest tendencies, the categories for which are legion, ranging from the benign dishonesty of lofty campaign promises to the true definition of lying displayed by President Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.” The point being the mileage gained by employing the swath of dishonesties in between is wholey dependent upon the viewers political perspective. The right’s ranting on about Obama’s lying about accepting public funding carries about as much weight with the left as does the left’s rantings about McCain’s lying about the bridge to nowhere.

    Is Palin embellishing the story when she says she looked congress in the eye and said “no thanks”? Without question! But so is Obama when he says he is the post-partisan agent of change. Both are rhetorical garnishes aimed at making the entre more appealing. It’s politics for goodness sake.

    But Aesop was right. You yell “wolf” for every scurrying animal you hear in the forest, there will come a point in time when people ignore you. I saw it happen with the GOP, in particular Congressman Dan Burton, in the 90’s, and I see it with the left now. If you want to stretch definitions is nakedly partisan ways, Fine.

    But you are not going to convince vast middle America that there is a wolf. More likely, they will look at you and say “what the hell are you talking about with all the ‘Lying’ crap.”

  51. rodney dill says:

    You’re right on the first link, Crust. Which you already knew. For some reason I didn’t pick up on the name in red as a link the first pass.

  52. rodney dill says:

    Way upthread I tried to make the point that partisans have a nasty tendency of flexible definitions; a flexibility that always favors their partisan point of view.

    I’ve noticed this tendency in the misnomer, ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, which has been characterized as a bridge for an island with 50 inhabitants. I think the whole slam against the bridge has been painted with a partisan brush, which has little to do with the Presidential campaign, but does explain why Palin was for it, then against it.

    – I believe the air port services about 200,000 people a year, the only viable link between the airport and Ketchikan is ferry.
    – Its a ‘gateway’ city of 8500 that services about 750,000 to 1,000,000 million visitors per year (presumably mostly by ship).
    – The city itself has run out of room for expansion on its side of the channel, The island has flat area’s suitable for expansion. (i.e. The bridge would attract new residents to the island, not just service the 50 current residents, and airport traffic headed to Ketchikan.)
    – From Google maps the island is no ‘tiny’ island, the airport only takes up a small portion.

    What I’m not going to try to derive (and certainly haven’t found) is the volume justification for a $200 Million bridge, let alone the $400 million cost when Palin said no thanks. The residents of Ketchikan still seem to want it.

  53. anjin-san says:

    what would you expect her to do?

    Ask for his resignation and forgo personal attacks designed to cover her own mishandling of the affair.

    Shall we post Palin’s bio to compare?

    Absolutely. How many jobs has she held where she put her life on the line to serve country/community?

  54. bains says:

    What I’m not going to try to derive (and certainly haven’t found) is the volume justification for a $200 Million bridge…

    No. The approved federal “earmark” was $203M, with $195M already approved from the state coffers – total cost of the bridge when first proposed was $398M.

    Yearly traffic through the airport is 200,000; it is the second largest airport in southern Alaska. ferry traffic across the Tongass Narrows is 350,000.

  55. rodney dill says:

    I’ve found a little different picture bains, but as, at least I think, we are arguing more or less the same side, I’m not too concerned.

    Alaska’s congressional delegation endured withering criticism for earmarking $223 million for Ketchikan and a similar amount for a crossing of Knik Arm at Anchorage.
    […]
    Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Saturday that as projected costs for the Ketchikan bridge rose to nearly $400 million,

    From the above quote, just the Ketchikan bridge went from 223 million to around 400 million. From other links (I’ll have to find again) Alaska kept the unearmarked money, but only allocated about 100 million for the bridge, with the state needing to make up the rest.

    I saw the wiki entry, but other sources have a slightly different view.

  56. rodney dill says:

    I believe the number of footnote entries for the wikipedia entry Gravina_Island_Bridge, have more than doubled in a couple of weeks, making is hard to track down some of the sources I previously saw

  57. bains says:

    Yeah, I looked through the recent edits of that entry – lots of people trying to tweak the narrative. The perils of Wikipedia.

    The reason I linked it rodney, was it comported with memory. I havent bothered running the actual facts down because, frankly, there are a number of boneheaded commenters here that are not concerned with fact. I recall another little mentioned turn of the story where after taking office, Palin saw staggering new numbers for the Gravina Island bridge, and that was the proverbial straw.

    The nutroots can rail all they want, but the bottom line is that Palin stopped a multi-million dollar project birthed from corrupt earmarking endemic in the US Congress. (have fun with that turn of phrase Palin-haters).

  58. bains says:

    And rodney, in a real below the belt,

    question: where have all the Obama supporters gone?

    answer: they’re off calling Bristol Palin.

  59. anjin-san says:

    they’re off calling Bristol Palin

    Your right bains, that is cheap. You using a teenager to make a crappy political point sucks.

    Sort of like McCain telling jokes about how ugly Chelsea Clinton was when she was a teenager.

    Real Classy.

  60. Crust says:

    belloscm, on the $26 million Road to Nowhere (i.e. the access road to the Bridge to Nowhere), it looks like Governor Palin was urged to stop it by the Heritage Foundation and others, but declined. Presumably some but not all of that $26 million in federal money was already spent (or irrevocably committed). Details here.

  61. Crust says:

    Does bains or anyone else have an answer to my question on Palin claiming she said “no thanks to Congress”? Is there any plausible way to parse that as truthful?

  62. Crust says:

    rodney dill, re link: No worries. Happens to us all, from time to time.

  63. bains says:

    crust – read my posts.

    anjin-san – But I’m not the one calling Bristol, or posting here message online, or digging through emails, or…

    In fact, my bottom of the barrel ‘joke’ is no worse that what one can hear on any broadcast or cable show issued on a daily basis against any number of conservatives/Republicans. .

    And I dont pretend it is lofty…

    Astounding how humorless the left is when tables are turned back upon them.

  64. anjin-san says:

    I’m not the one calling Bristol

    No, you are the one using a 17 year old girl to score a cheap point.

    Its nice to know the character of the people you chat with.

    But, by all means, hide behind moral equivalency.

  65. bains says:

    No, you are the one using a 17 year old girl to score a cheap point.

    Nice to see the moral preening anjin-san.

  66. Grewgills says:

    My own cynical view of politicians is that ALL have dishonest tendencies, the categories for which are legion,

    Agreed.

    ranging from the benign dishonesty of lofty campaign promises to the true definition of lying displayed by President Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.”

    Actually he said ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’, which he parsed by using the primary definition of sexual relations (genital to genital sex). This was certainly intended to deceive, but is technically not a true lie*. On the other hand Palin saying that she said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the federal money for the bridge is not parsing of definitions it is a true lie. She did take the money (as any governor would) and used it for other things. Making the claim that she did not take the money is a lie (not just an embellishment). You may not think it is an important lie or that all politicians do it but lie it is.

    The point being the mileage gained by employing the swath of dishonesties in between is wholey largely dependent upon the viewers political perspective. The right’s ranting on about Obama’s lying about accepting public funding carries about as much weight with the left as does the left’s rantings about McCain’s lying about the bridge to nowhere.

    Agreed.

    Is Palin embellishing the story when she says she looked congress in the eye and said “no thanks”? Without question! But so is Obama when he says he is the post-partisan agent of change.

    Palin’s embellishment is a lie.
    Obama saying he will bring change to DC is an aspirational claim and political boilerplate, not a lie.

    In fact, my bottom of the barrel ‘joke’ is no worse that what one can hear on any broadcast or cable comedy and pundit shows issued on a daily basis against any number of conservatives/Republicans.

    Nor is it any worse than you can here on a daily basis from talk radio and cable pundit shows directed at liberals/Democrats. Don’t let your political blinders make you think that the media distortions are one sided.

    But I’m not the one calling Bristol, or posting here message online, or digging through emails,

    That would be a lone hacker and an online gossip rag. Your joke does not place you at the level of the hacker or the rag, but it does place you with the unfortunately large choruses on both sides of the aisle trying to use it to score cheap political points.

    * using Webster’s and OED’s primary definition, “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.”

    BTW all given examples other than aspirational statements meet definition 2 of lie, “to create a false or misleading impression.”

  67. Crust says:

    bains re Palin’s “no thanks to Congress” line:

    crust – read my posts.

    OK, I went carefully through all your posts and found this (which I had missed earlier, apologies) that is the one responsive bit I found:

    Is Palin embellishing the story when she says she looked congress in the eye and said “no thanks”? Without question!

    So it sounds like you’re tacitly agreeing that this part of Palin’s story is false. And of course Palin knows that she didn’t tell Congress anything. As she said at the time when she killed the bridge it was more like the other way around:

    It’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island

    So this is a knowing falsehood, in other words, a lie. A lie she has told at least 11 times. A lie that was a signature line for her. I say “was” because it looks like she hasn’t made that claim since Sept. 15, so hopefully she’s finally stopped telling at least this whopper.