Steamboat Springs Gov. Sarah Palin's acceptance of the Republican vice-presidential nomination at the RNC in August was her first national exposure of any significance. If Sen. McCain is elected president, in all likelihood, Palin will become president, either upon McCain's death or in her own rights in four years. So let's explore the veracity of our potentially future president, and ask yourself who you want to answer the "red phone" at 3 a.m.
As a former Congressional Affairs Officer for President Jimmy Carter, I was trained to detect misleading statements, misquotes, untruths and downright lies espoused by politicians. As I listened to Palin's speech, my BS meter kicked into high gear.
Palin's statement about reducing taxes in Alaska was a severe misstatement. Knowing that Alaska has neither a state income tax nor sales tax alerted me immediately that Palin may play loose and free with her words. Just how did the governor reduce something that doesn't exist?
Palin's statement saying, "thanks but no thanks for the bridge to nowhere" is an outright lie. She supported federal earmarked funding to the tune of $228 million until it became political suicide and she withdrew her support after Sen. Ted Steven's (R-AK) indictment.
But, and a big but, she withdrew her support conditioned on the fact that the Republican-controlled Congress paid Alaska $223 million of that earmark to spend on other projects. About $40 million was used to build an access road to the abandoned bridge to nowhere project, and $73 million is sitting in an account, awaiting some other proposal to link the tiny towns of Ketchikan and Gravina, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation.
She could have omitted this from her speech altogether or told the truth, but then the frenetic applause would have not resounded at the RNC.
Palin's statement of "putting (the state's jet) on eBay," first captured my attention as a statement that would end up totally distorted and repeated until it became a statement of truth, which it has. Sen. McCain, the next night, stated that, "she sold it at a profit." Not true. The jet was not sold on eBay but purchased by a businessman for much less than the original purchase price. Kudos to her for selling it, but truthful facts would have gone a long way toward establishing her credibility.
Palin's statements that, "she drives herself," imply that state funds aren't used for drivers or her security force. The truth is, she may drive herself on occasion or even every single time, but state funds are budgeted annually and expended for drivers and a security force, whether she uses them or not. This is no money-saving tactic for the state of Alaska when she drives herself. Again, misleading at the very least.
As far as Palin releasing the governor's chef, it is true - yes and no. The chef was released in June 2007, while her family vacationed and until official state functions resumed in the fall of 2007, but the chef remained on the state payroll. See the Anchorage Daily News from June 29, 2007. Her statement conjured up images of the governor personally shopping for and preparing gourmet food for the frequent official state dinners held at the governor's mansion. What, in reality, was saved for the state of Alaska?
Gov. Palin had to know that every word she uttered would be scrutinized, and yet in her introductory speech to the nation, her judgment was to lie, and she lied about things that are inconsequential. How can we trust her to be forthright and truthful in the event she is required to act on behalf of all citizens of the United States of America?
Judy Tremaine has served on the staff of both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress; staff of a Congressional Committee; and, was a Congressional Affairs Officer for both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.