Integrity Disgrace Award

16 September 2008: Well, it’s now coming up on three weeks since John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running-mate the week prior to the Republican National Convention. In  introducing her he made an especially strong point about her being someone who built her career fighting corruption and earmarks. McCain’s shining example of her doing this was that as Alaska’s Governor Palin said, "Thanks but no thanks to Congress" for "the Bridge to Nowhere."

This was a reference to the proposed Gravina Island Bridge, which would have connected the town of Ketchikan to the island on which its airport is located. In truth, this bridge, with a total estimated cost of approximately $400 million, would have served this fifth largest town in Alaska, which in 2007 had a population of 7,368. The airport, which is about one mile from downtown Ketchikan is currently reached by a seven minute ferry.

The amount of the Congressional earmark that had been set aside for this bridge was over two hundred million dollars. Doing the math, this pork barreling of federal funds was worth approximately $27,000 to every man, woman and child in Ketchikan.

Palin being an an anti-earmark reformer then became a major theme in her Vice Presidental nominee acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, during which she again repeated her "thanks but no thanks to the bridge to nowhere" story. In the almost two weeks since then she has continued to repeat this same theme using this same example.

This is where things get really ugly. Not long after Senator McCain announced his running-mate at the end of August, fact was separated from spin. What quickly became clear is that Governor Palin had actively endorsed — NOT opposed — this bridge to nowhere, and that she only changed her tune AFTER this $223 million earmark fell out of favor during the ugly scandal this earmarked caused in Congress. In the end, and despite changing her tune, Palin nonetheless still chose to accept these pork barrel funds to spend on other projects Alaska projects.

Is this her best example of being an anti-earmark reformer? If not, why hasn’t she used an honest example?

Which brings me to an even more outrageous point: ever since McCain’s and Palin’s bold-faced lie was exposed during the week of the Republican National Convention, which was the first week of September, Governor Palin has continued to repeat her lie. She repeated this lie as recently as today September 16, 2008.

As I wrote in my Three Secrets to Becoming a Spin-Buster blog post, not all spin is the same. In that post I identified three levels of spin, each more damaging and lacking in integrity than the one before it. I call the most serious level of spin "Felony Spin."

Felony Spin includes deliberately lying about the truth and/or deliberately omitting facts or details regarding highly significant or important issues because if they were included they would weaken your argument. Felony Spin includes repeating a false narrative so frequently that by the time the truth finally comes out, the lie has become so firmly planted in the minds of those being propagandized that they remain loyal to the lie. Felony Spin produces lasting damage to our entire political system and to society as a whole.

As I said, saying "thanks but no thanks" to the bridge to nowhere continues to be touted by Governor Palin weeks after it has been exposed as a lie. Continuing to use this lie to make a case for how she is a crusader against Congressional pork barrel earmarking is over-the-top lack of integrity. Again, not all spin is the same. Felony Spin is not the same as the Misdemeanor Spin or Spin Speeding Tickets levels of spin that I describe in my prior post.

All is NOT fair in political campaigns. Felony Spin is beyond the pale. Felony Spin is a sign of someone who is so addicted to an ends-justifies-the-means mentality that they persist in repeating outrageous lies in the hope that the lie will be accepted as truth by as many gullible voters as possible. This outlandish lack of politican integrity cannot and should not be tolerated.

I did not want to do this, but for persisting in repeating this Felony Spin, and especially for continuing to do this long after it was debunked, I can no longer hold back in awarding Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain’s Vice-Presidential running-mate, with an Integrity Disgrace Award.

Senator McCain receives an Integrity Disgrace Award Dishonorable Mention, not merely for having introduced this lie to the public in the first place, but for not having instructed Palin to cease and desist in continuing to use it once it was revealed to be a lie.

As an American, and as someone who is passionate about the extraordinary form of government that our founding fathers birthed, I am ashamed of them both for persisting in behaviors that are deeply damaging to our political process while claiming to be reformers who will restore integrity our government.

Integrity Disgrace Award - Sarah Palin