Wednesday, September 10, 2008

John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Lipstick on Bridge Problems

The fatal collapse of Minnesota's I-35 Mississippi River Bridge in August, 2007 drew attention to the issue of America's crumbling infrastructure.

The infamous pork-funded Bridge to Nowhere is everywhere this week, and rightly so. It seems that Governor Sarah Palin was indeed for the bridge before she was against it, and even then, she only turned against it when public (and eventually, media) criticism of excessive government earmarks highlighted that spectacularly wasteful project as Exhibit A. Yet Palin clings to the myth and the soundbite alike--"I told Congress thanks, but no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere up in Alaksa...". David Schuster reported that even yesterday, Palin repeated the lie twice while on the stump; by Chris Matthews' count, she's repeated the lie seven times in public appearances, as John McCain stood by her side.

Of course, Palin didn't mark the federal funds Return To Sender, but rather, "reappropriated" them for use in her state (no wonder she's popular in Alaska--hell, if Governor Crist gave all Floridians a few grand apiece to help with the cost of keeping our houses at liveable temperatures, he'd have an approval rating even higher than he does without giveaways).

What hasn't been mentioned too often is that Senator John McCain was clearly against Palin before he was for her. And before he chose Palin as a running mate and inexplicably began to call her a "maverick" and a "fiscal conservative", McCain went on record speculating that the hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for building a bridge that so few would use actually helped drain the federal budget of funds that should have gone to repairing existing bridges, and therefore contributed to the disastrous collapse of the I-35 Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota earlier that year.

Say what?

Well, let's just go to the record. From CNN, September 2007 (emphasis mine):
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Revillagigedo and Gravina islands.

Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark -- or stipulation -- that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate. [...]

Just last month, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said pet projects could have played a role in a Minnesota bridge collapse that killed 13 people earlier this year.

"Maybe if we had done it right, maybe some of that money would have gone to inspect those bridges and other bridges around the country," McCain told a group of people in a town-hall style meeting in Ankeny, Iowa.

"Maybe the 200,000 people who cross that bridge every day would have been safer than spending $233 million of your tax dollars on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it."

Did McCain even remember saying this when he impulsively named a flashy, attention-drawing, and totally un-vetted person as his running mate less than two weeks ago? And, much more importantly, is anyone in the establishment media paying attention, damn it?

(H/T Group News Blog)

Also at Cogitamus.

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