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Palin on Earmarks: Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game « The Washington Independent

ABC News has released an excerpt of Charlie Gibson’s third and final interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in which Gibson asks Palin about her shifting position on the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Palin stops short of specifically saying she initially supported the project, but criticizes the abuse of earmark process as an “embarrassment.”

GIBSON: You have said continually, since he chose you as his vice-presidential nominee, that I said to Congress, thanks but not thanks. If we’re going to build that bridge, we’ll build it ourselves.

PALIN: Right.

GIBSON: But it’s now pretty clearly documented: you supported that bridge before you opposed it. You were wearing a t-shirt in the 2006 campaign, showed your support for the Bridge to Nowhere.

PALIN: I was wearing a t-shirt with the zip code of the community that was asking for that bridge. Not all the people in that community even were asking for a $400 million or $300 million bridge.

GIBSON: But you turned against it after Congress had basically pulled the plug on it; after it became apparent that the state was going to have to pay for it, not the Congress; and after it became a national embarrassment to the state of Alaska. So do you want to revise and extend your remarks.

PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form — earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that’s what John McCain has fought. And that’s what I joined him in fighting. It’s been an embarrassment, not just Alaska’s projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment.

However, she then seems to say that not all earmarks are bad — what matters is the process by which they are acquired.

GIBSON: Governor, this year, requested $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals, money to study the mating habits of crabs. Isn’t that exactly the kind of thing that John McCain is objecting to?

PALIN: Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar.

That’s the abuse that we’re going to stop. That’s what John McCain has promised over and over for these years and that’s what I’m joining him, also, saying, you’re right, the abuse of earmarks, it’s un-American, it’s undemocratic. And it’s not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop.

I actually agree with her here. As I’ve written before, earmarks pay for a lot of good things, and some are very wasteful. However, McCain seems to have abandoned the distinction between earmarks that are added to appropriations bills “in the light of day” and those that are done “behind closed doors.” Instead, he rails against all earmarks — just today, rather than drawing this distinction, he made the indefensible claim that Palin has never requested an earmark as governor on “The View.”

Of course, it’s harder to sell a nuanced argument to voters than a blanket anti-earmark policy. But a nuanced argument is far better than an outright lie.

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