Factchecking Palin

I thought Palin's speech was quite good: well-written, well delivered.
And, as I said earlier, I think she's a genuinely engaging person, and
comes across very well. There were just a couple of problems. One,
which I have seen people notice, but which I suspect won't be a big
deal for a lot of voters, is that it had very little substance. The
other, which the commenters I saw on TV for some reason neglected to
mention, was that she told a lot of lies. A few that stood out for me,
or that I spotted in my quick run-through of some blogs:

Palin: "To the families of special-needs children all across this
country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a
more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that
if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White

Sarah Palin might have changed her mind on this one recently. However,
a comment here notes that Palin actually slashed funding for schools
for special needs kids by 62%.

Budgets: FY 2007 (pre-Palin)


(all pdfs requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Palin: "As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever
he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man."

Steve's list of McCain flip-flops is here.

See for yourself whether constancy is, in fact, John McCain's middle

Palin: "I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that
Bridge to Nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, we'd build it

Just to reiterate what others have said: Congress' requirement that
funds be spent on that bridge (aka the 'earmark') were removed before
Sarah Palin became governor. She was therefore in no position to tell
Congress anything about the bridge, one way or the other. During her
campaign, she said she supported funding for the bridge. Brad Plumer,
citing the Anchorage Dialy News via Nexis:

"5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and
Gravina Island bridges?

Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built
sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional
delegation is in a strong position to assist."

Later, she accepted the money -- now not restricted by an earmark --
and used it for other infrastructure projects. Here's her statement
about why she wasn't building the bridge (also via Plumer.) Decide for
yourselves what role a principled opposition to earmark funding plays
in it. Hint: here's what residents of Ketchikan AK said when they
heard her recent remarks:

"In the city Ketchikan, the planned site of the so-called "Bridge
to Nowhere," political leaders of both parties said the claim was
false and a betrayal of their community, because she had supported the
bridge and the earmark for it secured by Alaska's Congressional
delegation during her run for governor. (...)

"People are learning that she pandered to us by saying, I'm for
this' ... and then when she found it was politically advantageous for
her nationally, abruptly she starts using the very term that she said
was insulting," Weinstein said."

Palin: "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."

Ha, ha, ha. I gave a rundown of Obama's accomplishments in the Senate

They include the Lugar-Obama bill on nonproliferation, and an ethics
reform package that the Washington Post called "the strongest ethics
legislation to emerge from Congress yet." Ruth Marcus summarizes his
record on reform:

"He helped pass a far-reaching ethics and campaign finance bill in
the Illinois state Senate and made the issue a priority on arriving in
Washington. Much to the displeasure of his colleagues, Obama promoted
an outside commission to handle Senate ethics complaints. He
co-authored the lobbying reform bill awaiting President Bush's
signature and pushed -- again to the dismay of some colleagues -- to
include a provision requiring lawmakers to report the names of their
lobbyist-bundlers. He has co-sponsored bills to overhaul the
presidential public financing system and public financing of Senate

Not a single major law or reform, indeed.

And I wasn't aware that writing memoirs was something to be ashamed
of. Obama has, in fact, written only one. McCain (with Mark Salter)
has written at least two.

Palin: "America needs more energy ... our opponent is against
producing it."

No -- he plans to develop a lot more energy than John McCain does.
It's just that a lot of it is renewable, not carbon-based. Moreover,
Obama hasn't skipped the last eight votes on renewable energy.

Palin: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to
raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income
taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and
increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions
of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a
service station that's now opened for business - like millions of
others who run small businesses. How are they going to be any better
off if taxes go up?"

Well, it all depends whose taxes go up, doesn't it? If Heather and her
husband make less than $250,000, their taxes will not go up. Most
Americans will pay less in taxes under Obama's plan than under
McCain's. So they might well be better off.

Those are just the falsehoods that leapt to mind. I'm sure there are

Whether or not Sarah Palin's engaging personality matters more than
the fact that she tells lies depends a lot on the media, and whether
they allow her to say that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, or that
Obama has never authored a major law or reform, without calling her on
it. I hope they do. But I'm not holding my breath.


UPDATE: Mark Kleiman posts an Obama campaign rebuttal, which is more
thorough than I was.