Debunking Caribou Barbie’s Speech & Other Republican Talking Points

The Associated Press did a little fact checking into claims made by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in her VP-nomination acceptance speech last night.  And they went after other statements Republicans are making about her.  And what a surprise; she (and they) got a lot of stuff wrong or told outright lies. 

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: “I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending … 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.”

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a “bridge to nowhere.”

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.”

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

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.”

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama’s plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: “She’s been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply … She’s responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply. I’m entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain’s phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she’s no more “responsible” for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state _ by population.

MCCAIN: “She’s the commander of the Alaska National Guard. … She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under “federal status,” which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska’s national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin “got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.”

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor’s election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: “We need change, all right _ change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington _ throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

The McCain camp is going to war with the press over their coverage, mainly because its not the flattering stuff they’ve come to expect. 

Roger Simon of offered this satirical apology from the press:

It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.

Newsweek’s Joe Klein wrote this:

“The second thing is more insidious: Steve Schmidt has decided, for tactical reasons, to slime the press. He wants the public to believe that there is an unfair–sexist (you gotta love it)–personal assault going on against Palin and her family. This is a smokescreen, intended to divert attention from the very real and responsible vetting that is taking place in the media–about the substance of Palin’s record as mayor and governor.

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is “a task from God.” The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.”

  4 comments for “Debunking Caribou Barbie’s Speech & Other Republican Talking Points

  1. Homewrecker
    September 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    It’s understandable that the McCain people would be on the defensive. After eight years of the press not doing its job, the Republican Party has gotten used to getting a free pass from the press.

  2. RHackett
    September 4, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Many conservatives are crowing that Palin hit a home run last night.

    In this clip, Stewart hits a grand slam. No pun intended. Well maybe a little

  3. Rob
    September 4, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Subject: Carol McCain (Former Mrs. John Mcain) A MUST READ

    More about John McCain. I doubt you’ll hear this on CNN or any other station.

    I thought you might find this interesting. On the show we saw last week,
    McCain mentioned that his greatest failure in life was the ending of his first
    marriage. No kidding? I guess he had to admit some remorse because his ex-wife was going public with the story. How shallow can one man be?

    Carol McCain
    McCain likes to illustrate his moral fiber by referring to his five years as
    a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to family
    values, the 71-year- old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his
    beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children. But there is another
    Mrs. McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator’s presidential
    campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about, despite being mother to
    McCain’s three eldest children.

    She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and
    torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully
    stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news. But
    when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a
    handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a
    terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a
    teleg raph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969.

    Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive
    internal injuries.

    When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving
    surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeons had been
    forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall,
    willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a
    catheter. Today, she stands at just 5′ 4′ in and still walks awkwardly, with a
    pronounced limp. Her body is held together by screws and metal plates and, at 70,
    her face is worn by wrinkles that speak of decades of silent suffering.

    For nearly 30 years, Carol has maintained a dignified silence about the
    accident, McCain and their divorce. But last week at the bungalow where she now
    lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington, she told The Mail on Sunday how McCain divorced her in 1980 and married Cindy, 18 years his junior and the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune, just one month later.

    My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be
    25. You know that happens…it just does.’

    In 1979 – while still married to Carol – he met Cindy at a cocktail party in
    Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country
    to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage. Some of McCain’s
    acquaintances are less forgiving, however. They portray the politician as a
    self-centered womanizer who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to ‘play the
    field’. They accuse him of finally settling on Cindy, a former rodeo beauty
    queen, for financial reasons.

    Ted Sampley, who fought with US Special Forces in Vietnam and is now a
    leading campaigner for veterans’ rights,
    said: ‘I have been following John McCain’s career for nearly 20 years. I
    know him personally. There is something wrong with this guy and let me tell you
    what it is -dece it.’

    When he came home and saw that Carol was not the beauty he left behind, he
    started running around on her almost right away. Everybody around him knew it.
    Eventually he met Cindy and she was young and beautiful and very wealthy. At
    that point McCain just dumped Carol for something he thought was better.’

    McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and
    glory,’ he said. After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her
    over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona . And the rest is history.’

    Ross Perot, a billionaire Texas businessman, and a former presidential
    candidate, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both
    Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is
    unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

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