Republican Convention 2008

With "Reformers" Like This, Who Needs the Status Quo?

|

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.

NEXT: Where Property Rights and Politics Collide

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It doesn’t matter, because she is totally unknown to most people and McCain hopes to define her as a reformer before they do.

  2. She’s been on the right side of this issue for all of about a year.

    To be fair, that’s more than half of her time in office.

  3. But she’s so attractive!

  4. That’s $300 for every resident.

    When you have a large area and very few people, per capita spending on infastructure will be huge. It’s a stupid statistic.

    To be fair, that’s more than half of her time in office.

    To be fairer still, percentage wise that’s close to if not equal to infinity when it is compared to Obama’s executive experience.

  5. None of that matters. She’s just a token fundy loon to appeal to the fundy loon base with the additional use of being female and thus winning over former clinton supporters who are incapable of thought and therefore vote by matching genitalia.

  6. To be fairer still, percentage wise that’s close to if not equal to infinity when it is compared to Obama’s executive experience.

    Or McCain’s!

  7. Yeah, if her executive experience is so great why not make the ticket Palin/McCain?

    Hell, why not make it Palin/Romney?

  8. And it similarly dwarfs McCain’s zero years as an executive.

  9. She is still better than BO and JB, who are promising more government and more taxes.
    The perfect is the enemy of the good only in heavan and this ain’t heaven.

  10. I got executive experience when I ran the sanck shack at my local swimming pool my junior and senior year of high school. It was about the same size (and oddly enough, look) of the Wasilla City Hall.

    Can I haz VP?

  11. She is still better than BO and JB, who are promising more government and more taxes.

    So increasing the size of government and taxes and lying about it is preferable to promising more government and taxes and delivering it. Everything else being equal, I’d rather be told the truth than bullshitted.

    Radley,
    Don’t forget her time at the Stevens PAC.

  12. Terry,

    I guess that depends on how one defines “the good” in this context.

  13. Mo,

    To echo your remarks a bit, as far as I can tell both Obama and McCain have platforms which call for a more active government.

  14. Palin == PUMA bait

  15. I am so fucking sick of reading yet another Sarah Palin story. I can’t even go to digg or fucking Reddit without being bombarded by shrill stories about pregnant daughters. Goddamn motherfuck, I do not care. At least Radley tries to make it about issues.

  16. “That’s $300 for every resident.

    When you have a large area and very few people, per capita spending on infastructure will be huge. It’s a stupid statistic.”

    The Feds also own most of the state of Alaska so it would make sense that they would spend more per capita there than other places.

    Oh My God she fought for earmarks for her town when she was mayor. Joe Biden helped pass a incredibly harsh and unfair bankruptcy bill to placate the credit companies in Delaware. He is fucking Senator MBNA for God’s sake. Not so much as a shrug from Reason. How many earmarks and crooked deals has that old bastard been in on? No one at reason seems to care. Ron Paul votes against earmarks but still accepts them for his district. I don’t recall hearing any complaining about that or claiming that Ron Paul isn’t really for reform.

  17. She is still better than BO and JB, who are promising more government and more taxes.

    BO/JB will cut taxes for most of us, including a rare cut in the payroll tax, and return taxes on the rich to 1990s levels (what a grim time economically that was, eh?). JM/SP would cut taxes for you-know-who. As far as “more government” is concerned, I’d take a larger government if I get a less bellicose and more nuanced foreign policy in return. The feds are going to spend the money anyway, so I’d rather see it spent on research and poverty than on killing foreigners.

  18. Finally, some real reporting on Sarah Palin. Was that so hard?

    Disappointing, to be sure.

    She’s just a token fundy loon

    And here we see the effectiveness of the Dem smear machine. Pro-life, and willing to put her, um, uterus where her, er, well, you know what I mean, plus being opposed to mandating creationism on school curricula = fundy loon.

  19. I still think Palin is better than Obama, McCain, and Biden put together. So in my ‘best of all possible worlds’ McCain/Palin is elected, and he drops dead before taking office.

    I’ll be voting for Barr.

  20. BO/JB will cut taxes for most of us,

    I was overdue for a laugh. I expect this will happen just about the time we stop using foreign oil.

  21. “I was overdue for a laugh. I expect this will happen just about the time we stop using foreign oil.”

    Actually the tax cuts are sandwiched in between the “fast tracking of altnetative energy” and ending our dependence on foreign oil. Shortly afterwich sunshine will come out of the chosen one’s ass and Chris Matthews will feel a shiver down his leg fullfilling and the sleeper will awaken or something like that.

  22. Again, as in the case of Barr, even if they were for some stupid policy originally what matters is their stance NOW. The whole “Being for it before you are against it” smear is retarded. People should be capable of recognizing a mistake and correcting it.

    And I don’t care if their reasoning is just because its “politically expedient” as long as it gets the job done.

  23. Ahem…

    Alaska has become so accustomed to largess flowing from Congress through Stevens that most of Palin’s earmark requests this year – such as studies of Alaskan fisheries, grants to combat drug trafficking, and rural airport upgrades – simply keep ongoing programs going. Among her requests was $150,000 to pay the travel bills of state and fisheries industry representatives on the boards that implement North Pacific fisheries agreements.

    Plus, that’s down from $12,200 per resident in Federal monies.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/02/19/INGMQH9TVS1.DTL

  24. “She’s been on the right side of this issue for all of about a year.”

    Which is a year longer than Biden and BO have ever been on the right side of the issue.

    Good for Radley for actually talking about something that matters. Now if he would just post something on BO or Biden’s record of reform and earmarks for comparison. I am not holding my breath, but we can always hope.

  25. Look for her to suddenly advocate increased federal block grants for dealing with the needs of unwed pregnant teens…

    Cue TAO outrage 1, 2, 3 (I do think that guy is in fact in actual love with Palin)

  26. John,

    Last Friday I remember some portion of the blogosphere being rather gleeful about the prospects of the Palin nomination creating a huge media buzz. Well, they got it.

  27. No major party politician can escape criticism from libertarians for some action they’ve taken. I’m surprised, however, that we haven’t seen any analysis of the kinds of “community organizing” projects Obama worked on, a chronicaling of each of his votes in the Illinois legislature, etc. Add everything up and Obama/Biden/McCain/Palin are all more or less lying about what they advocate vs. what they’ve actually done.
    I’m voting for Barr; at least he claims to have recanted (and I don’t know if I totally believe him either)his past pecadillos.

  28. John,

    Said media buzz sucking the wind out of the sails of the Obama campaign.

  29. It seems that the problem with Sarah Palin as described by this article is that she’s good at getting federal money. Good for her! She can’t stop them from taking it, so she might as well get the biggest slice of the pie for her people as she can. I might be more inclined to be irritated at this if she were at the federal level, but this is exactly what I’d want a state official to do. Spending time scrambling for Washington handouts is far less harmful than most of the things they get up to.

  30. “The whole “Being for it before you are against it” smear is retarded.”

    I’m sure you were loudly making this claim when Kerry was being pummelled for it. No? hmmm…

  31. Seward,

    I have never seen anything like what is going on with Palin. Both sides of the internet have gone absolutely mad. I would imagine the ratings for tonight’s speech are going to be very high. Most people just want to see what the commotion is about. It is a huge opportunity for her. If she is good, it will be a big deal. If she blows it, it will be a big deal but not in a good way.

  32. Creech,

    I would be very interested to know what Obama did as a community organizer. Maybe someday Reason can get out of the tank for him and take a look. My guess is they will do that shortly after he is safely elected and they are shocked to find out he is a liberal who doesn’t support much of anything they do.

  33. John,

    I have never seen anything like what is going on with Palin.

    I have. I see it every few months when the next flavor of the week media storm comes down the pike.

  34. MNG:

    It was a retarded smear then too. People who change their minds after seeing undesirable consequences display good judgetment. Would you rather have someone that refuses to admit they’ve made a mistake and takes no action to correct it? Because we already have someone like that as President.

    Also the 2004 election was insanity. The increasing intensity of Right vs. Left politics is sickening.

  35. To be fairer still, percentage wise that’s close to if not equal to infinity when it is compared to Obama’s executive experience.

    Or McCain’s. Which pretty effectively puts to bed the notion that executive experience is the relevant metric.

    Oh My God she fought for earmarks for her town when she was mayor. Joe Biden helped pass a incredibly harsh and unfair bankruptcy bill to placate the credit companies in Delaware. He is fucking Senator MBNA for God’s sake. Good thing for Obama that he hasn’t made opposition to earmarks a fundamental plank of his public persona.

    Actually the tax cuts are sandwiched in between the “fast tracking of altnetative energy” and ending our dependence on foreign oil. Shortly afterwich sunshine will come out of the chosen one’s ass and Chris Matthews will feel a shiver down his leg fullfilling and the sleeper will awaken or something like that. And is that before or after Arab Spring? Hint: neocons shouldn’t deride hopefulness and grandiosity of vision if they want to be taken seriously.

    Now if he would just post something on BO or Biden’s record of reform and earmarks for comparison. You mean like the earmark reform bills Obama wrote and got passed? Yeah, that would be cool. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

  36. John,

    Or blog storm, or whatever term one wants to use.

  37. I have never seen anything like what is going on with Palin. Both sides of the internet have gone absolutely mad.

    SCARY BLACK CHURCH! SCARY BLACK CHURCH!!!

  38. That was fucking ridiculous too. I’m so glad that the two sides have taken to one-upping each other in terms of being shrill about inane matters. Good to know you’re part of that wonderful cycle of partisan mudflinging.

    Its like an arms-race of stupidity.

  39. Its like an arms-race of stupidity.

    That is an excellent way to put it. Glad to see there are more of us that are utterly weary of it.

  40. Has anyone actually read the article?

    The $198M in earmarks is down from $550M. Doesn’t a 64% reduction in one year deserve praise rather than scorn?

  41. “Good thing for Obama that he hasn’t made opposition to earmarks a fundamental plank of his public persona.”

    Then how come he isn’t being called to account for chosing a running mate who is such a part of the Washington establishment and associated corruption? I guess that is better than the Chicago corruption Obama came out of so maybe Biden was a good choice. All and all Joe, that is a pretty lame response. You are really not on your game today.

    “You mean like the earmark reform bills Obama wrote and got passed?” You mean the ones that have no teeth? Earmarks are going merely on today Joe. The change in parties didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference.

    Arab spring Joe? We just turned Anbar over to the IRaqis and agreed to go home in 2011. Let’s go back and read what the Democrats were saying about Anbar in 2007.

    As far as Obama’s white hating black liberation Pastor, even that doesn’t equal this. Althouse has like 8 posts in a row that have 400+ posts. Of course, Obama did do the right thing and eventually leave the America hating black church. He deserves credit for that, even though it did take him 20 years to do it. If Obama wins it will be interesting to see if Wright gets a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. I knows Ayers and Dorn will. Curious to see if Wright will.

  42. http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2008/09/just-before-bar.html

    While we are talking VPs here. Read this on Joe Biden and Ted Sorenson’s nomination back in the Carter Administration. What a lying sack of shit. Interesting Clearance Thomas says the same thing about how nice Biden was to him in private and how he said he didn’t care about Anita Hill and so forth and then turned on him once the cameras came one.

  43. Did Mr. Balko actually do any research beyond summarizing Andrew Halcro’s accusations?

    I’m an Alaskan. I’ve talked to Halcro about politcs. My folks have known him for years. Andrew would say anything to damage Palin.

    Halcor is also a big support of Senator “tubes” Stevens and Don Young, simply because Palin is opposed to them. (Halcro thinks Stevens is innocent, desptie all of the evidence of corruption and ethics violations.)

    I’m not a big fan of Palin, but she is hardly a simple opportunist.

    In Alaska, she has been more like a force of nature. At the Alaska Republican Party convention her supporters nearly took over the party and disrupted the convention.

    Mr. Balko is pretty far off the mark. There may be reason’s to oppose Palin, but he isn’t mentioning them.

  44. There may be reason’s to oppose Palin, but he isn’t mentioning them.

    I’m still waiting for one.

  45. She’s been on the right side of this issue for all of about a year.

    Which is also true of, say, Sen. Jim DeMint along with everyone else who’s supposedly “good” on this issue now (as Cato seems to agree, judging by posts on Cato-at-Liberty), and not at all true of Sens. Obama and Biden, who are not on the right side of the issue even now.

  46. Bingo,

    Good to know you’re part of that wonderful cycle of partisan mudflinging.

    You can put up a quote from me flinging mud about Palin’s daughter any time you want.

    Tick tock.

  47. RC Dean,

    Yeah, fundy loon. Anyone who thinks they should burn or ban books because they’re “offensive” is a fundy loon.

  48. Oh, yeah, and the fact that she states that the Iraq war was a task assigned by god adds to her fundy loon credentials as well:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080903/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_palin_iraq_war

  49. Anyone who thinks they should burn or ban books because they’re “offensive” is a fundy loon.

    There is a difference between burning or banning a book and not stocking it in a library or assigning it at school, despite what many of the popular “banned book” lists say. Otherwise you’d have to start claiming that, e.g., the Bible is “banned” when not assigned in class, or that a library is “banning” creationist works or just plain bad novels if it doesn’t buy them.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.