John McCain and the right wing have dubbed his choice for running mate, Sarah Palin, as a reformer. McCain has gone even further actually calling Palin his ‘soul mate.’ That is difficult to believe unless McCain has totally abandoned his oft-professed hatred of earmarks. The Associated Press has compared Palin’s 20 month record as Governor of Alaska, with her more recent rhetoric on earmark reform. The simple version is that the rhetoric about her being a ‘reformer’ does not even come close to matching her record on earmarks and pork barrel spending.
The report reveals that under Palin’s leadership, Alaska has asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects. That is more per person than any other state has received. Alaska’s requests to Congress during her first year in office exceeded $550 million which amounts to more than $800 per resident. Although she distances herself from it now, Palin was supportive of the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ during her 2006 campaign for governor. Surely this is not the kind of ‘reform’ that John McCain was talking about is it? To make things even more awkward, in the past John McCain has actually listed Palin’s earmark requests as objectionable. Has he conveniently forgotten his objections or has he simply forgotten his own standards?
Unfortunately, Sarah Palin’s 20 month record as Alaska Governor is not the only thing that presents a problem for the ‘reformer’ image that so many are trying to craft for her. While she was Mayor of the 7,000 inhabitants of Wasilla, she actually hired a lobbyist firm to get millions in earmarks. One of the key people at that firm was a former aide to the recently indicted Alaskan Senator, and symbol of earmarks gone wild, Ted Stevens. To ad insult to injury, Palin also has served as the director for the indicted Senator’s 527 group.
I can only see two possible explanations for John McCain calling someone with Palin’s record his ‘soul mate.’ Either John McCain has totally changed his own positions on earmarks and reform or he simply didn’t know about Sarah Palin’s record before making the declaration. Both of these options are equally disturbing and the media should not rest until the public starts getting some ‘straight talk’ and a real explanation.