On Obama, Earmarks, Palin Less Than Honest

Palin's RNC speech bent the truth on her record and on the opposition.


Sept. 4, 2008— -- In a rousing speech at last night's Republican National Convention, vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, touted her record, attacked the opposition, and in some cases, bent the facts.

•PALIN: "[Obama] is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign."

FACT: On July 15, in a speech in Washington, D.C., Obama twice used the word "victory" in reference to Iraq.

"In fact," he said, "true success in Iraq -- victory in Iraq -- will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. ... I want Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future, and to reach the political accommodation necessary for long-term stability. That's victory. That's success. That's what's best for Iraq, that's what's best for America, and that's why I will end this war as president.

A week later in Berlin, Germany, on July 23, Obama used the word "victory" three times to describe Allied successes during World War II. And in a June speech about the prospect of universal health care, he said Sen. Hillary Clinton "will be central to that victory."

•PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform -- not even in the state senate."

FACT: The meaning of "major" is open to debate, but Obama worked with Republicans, including Sen. Richard Luger of Indiana, to pass legislation that would expand efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. While a state senator in Illinois, he sponsored two contentious bills, one that studied racial profiling by police and another that ordered interrogations in potential death penalty cases to be recorded.

•PALIN: "I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart."

FACT: That infrastructure project has not yet been approved by federal regulators. The proposed pipeline would ship natural gas from the Alaska's North Slope to homes and businesses across the United States. In June, the Alaskan legislature, with Palin's prodding, agreed to pay Canadian energy company TransCanada $500 million as an incentive to build the pipeline.

•PALIN: "And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes. I suspended the state fuel tax and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks, but no thanks,' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

FACT: While serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin hired Steven Silver, a former chief of staff for Sen. Ted Stevens, to lobby Congress for earmarks. Wasilla received around $27 million in federal money, about as much as Boise, Idaho. Boise has a population of 200,000 people, compared with Wasilla's 10,000. Earmarked funds went to sewage improvements and improving roads connecting the town to a local ski resort.

As for the Bridge to Nowhere, Palin initially supported using federal funds to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, which has 50 residents and a small airport. It was not until the plan was ridiculed that she withdrew her support. Critics contend she still supports using federal money to build a 3.4 mile Road to Nowhere on the island for $26 million -- from the funds for the bridge.

•PALIN: While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay. I also drive myself to work.

FACT: Soon after entering office, Palin put the state-owned Westwind II jet that her predecessor Frank Murkowski purchased amid much criticism. When the deal fell through with the sole eBay bidder, the plane was sold offline.

Alaskan businessman Larry Reynolds paid $2.1 million for the jet after learning about it from Republican John L. Harris, speaker of the Alaskan House of Representatives.

Palin, as she said, drives herself to work. In July, her Chevy Suburban was rear-ended while driving from Wasilla to her office in downtown Anchorage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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