As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Working Our Own Refs

It's clear that the media has little choice but to fact check the McCain campaign's decidedly wrong comments on earmarks and federal largesse. It hasn't changed behavior, however, nor will it. That's a key difference between Democrats and Republicans

John McCain and Sarah Palin criticized Democrat Barack Obama over the amount of money he has requested for his home state of Illinois, even though Alaska under Palin's leadership has asked Washington for 10 times more money per citizen for pet projects.

At a rally in swing state Missouri, the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate accused Obama of requesting nearly $1 billion in earmarks for his state during his time as a senator. The new line of attack came after Obama made his first direct criticism of Palin over the weekend, using the topic of earmarks, which are special projects that lawmakers try to get for their districts and constituents.

"Just the other day our opponent brought up earmarks — and frankly I was surprised that he would even raise the subject at all," Palin said. "I thought he wouldn't want to go there."

Obama hasn't asked for any earmarks this year. Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen.

There is no such thing as "contradiction" in the conservative lexicon. The McCain campaign has repeated the nonsense about Palin opposing the bridge to nowhere, despite documentary evidence to the contrary, 19 times and counting. It really doesn't matter to them. They're going to continue to portray themselves as fiscal conservative patriots:

The biggest project that Sarah Palin undertook as mayor of this small town was an indoor sports complex, where locals played hockey, soccer, and basketball, especially during the long, dark Alaskan winters.

The only catch was that the city began building roads and installing utilities for the project before it had unchallenged title to the land. The misstep led to years of litigation and at least $1.3 million in extra costs for a small municipality with a small budget. What was to be Ms. Palin's legacy has turned into a financial mess that continues to plague Wasilla.

"It's too bad that the city of Wasilla didn't do their homework and secure the land before they began construction," said Kathy Wells, a longtime activist here. "She was not your ceremonial mayor; she was in charge of running the city. So it was her job to make sure things were done correctly."

I guess she didn't know that she had "actual responsibilities."

Sebastian Mallaby, hardly a liberal, gets at the heart of this persistent variance between appearance and reality today in his column, which raps McCain for lying about Obama's tax plan.

McCain used to be a real straight talker. On campaign finance, spending earmarks, Iraq and immigration, he has fought bravely for his principles; and that record might have been a trump against an opponent who has taken almost no such risks. But we are now witnessing what might be called McCain's Palinization. McCain once criticized Christian conservatives as agents of intolerance, but he has caved in to their intolerance of a pro-choice running mate. McCain claims to be devoted to his country, yet he would saddle it with a vice president who is unprepared to serve as commander in chief. In the same sad way, McCain has caved in to his party's anti-tax fanatics. The man of principle has become a panderer. The straight talker flip-flops.

I think as the progressive netroots we need to reward those journalists who tell the truth, and mau-mau the others into doing the same. It's an uphill battle - in crucial ways the game is rigged - but it's worth doing because otherwise you cede all ground to the right. Tell them to put the lies in context, to build an overall picture of dishonesty around the McCain campaign.

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