It's getting more and more difficult to buy the narrative that Sarah Palin courageously risked her own career to take on Alaska's GOP establishment. Indeed, it's looking like she was part and parcel of the state's federal money grab right up until the time it became politically inexpedient, at which point she abruptly did an about-face.
The photo above (via Ben Smith) certainly shows Palin's spunk, but it shows her being defiant in the face of critics of the "Bridge to Nowhere." Palin political nemesis Andrew Halcro explains that as late as September of 2006, Palin was a vocal defender of the bridge, adding she was insulted by the insinuation that it led to "nowhere."
It wasn't until last summer, six weeks after the FBI raided the offices of Sen. Ted Stevens, that Palin announced her opposition to the bridge (before taking the money anyway, and using it for other projects). By that time, Alaska's lone congressman, Rep. Don Young, was also already under federal investigation. Opposing Stevens and Young as of late last summer wasn't a much of a political risk at all—just a little hypocritical, given Palin's own proven deftness at the earmark game.
We also learn today that John McCain has at least three times singled out for criticism earmarks procured by Palin when she was mayor of Wasilla. And the AP is reporting that as governor this year, Palin requested that indicted Sen. Ted Stevens procure some $200 million in federal earmarks for the state. That's $300 for every resident. That's more than any other state, and about nine times the average of the other 49 states.
All of which not only severely undercuts Palin's image as a reformer, it also puts the lie to the McCain camp's claims that Palin was thoroughly vetted. It would be one thing if Palin had been nominated for, say, her foreign policy expertise, and the earmark stuff was merely a shortcoming. But McCain says he selected Palin in large part because of her fight against earmarks and government waste. She's been on the right side of this issue for all of about a year.
Which means that Palin either wasn't vetted at all, or McCain's staff did vet her and didn't see a problem with any of this.
Neither scenario inspires much confidence in McCain or his staff.