Palin reverses course on bridge claim

PALIN REVERSES COURSE ON BRIDGE CLAIM…. Every day for two weeks voters have been told that Sarah Palin opposed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere and turned down federal funds to build it. It was the most notable claim in Palin’s very first speech as the VP candidate. She’s repeated it ad nauseum, as has John McCain and a slew of campaign surrogates and sycophants.

And yesterday, Palin decided to walk the claim back a bit.

ABC’s Charlie Gibson, to his credit, broached the subject, explained the timeline, and noted that Palin was for the bridge before she was against it. As Gibson put it, “[Y]ou 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.”

Palin explained, “I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it’s not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work with their Congress and their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure.”

You know what? That’s absolutely true. If a governor wants to go to Congress, hat in hand, and ask for pork-barrel infrastructure earmarks, that’s fine. But here’s the thing: Palin has spent the last two weeks insisting the exact opposite of the truth. It’s not “inappropriate” for Palin to ask for infrastructure money; it’s inappropriate to lie about it.

And as a practical matter, that’s what we’re left with — Palin reluctantly acknowledging to a national television audience that her single favorite talking point is demonstrably false. The anecdote that she used to help introduce herself to the nation was a lie.

The concession leads to two fairly straightforward questions. First, will Palin apologize for having misled voters? And second, are there consequences for a candidate seeking national office who gets caught in this big a lie?

Post Script: Speaking of earmarks, Gibson also inquired about Palin’s support for millions of dollars in earmarks to study the genetics of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs. The governor explained that those earmark requests came through “our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities.”

Well, sure, no one thought Palin thought them up on her own. But isn’t this the defense that every official seeking pork-barrel earmarks makes?