Beware the dishonest lede

Oh CNN, why must you vex me so?

Although Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden routinely mocks his Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for her onetime support of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," Biden and his running mate voted to keep the project alive twice.
Here's why it's dishonest. Biden doesn't mock Palin for her desire for federal money the bridge. He--and just about everyone else with any sense--simply points out that her line "I told Congress 'thanks but no thanks'" is a lie. Biden and Obama have never come out--to my knowledge--and talked about the project itself. The funny thing is that the rest of the article points out exactly why Biden wouldn't mock an earmark project. He's asked for plenty of them himself in his many years in the Senate.

As for me, I've never had problems with earmarks. I look at them as the "honest graft" side of politics, and the dollar amounts are a pittance compared to the real budget items, and the local projects often do some good.

The article also neglects one other part of the story. It takes Biden and Obama to task for voting to kill an amendment by Senator Coburn of Oklahoma that would have diverted money for the bridge to Louisiana to fix a bridge down there destroyed by Katrina, but it only tells part of the story. When Coburn offered that amendment, Senator Stevens of Alaska denounced him on the floor of the Senate, and threatened to offer similar amendments to every other earmark that was up for approval. Stevens's fellow Senators, not wanting to lose their pork, killed Coburn's amendment, but the damage was done and the bridge specifically died later on.

Why does that matter? Because earmarks are the grease that gets legislation passed. You want someone to vote on your pet bill, and he or she isn't motivated, you trade them a rec center in their hometown. So Obama and Biden protected their earmarks by siding with Stevens, as so many other Senators did, and you can hardly blame them. A big part of any legislator's job is getting back some of the federal tax money that goes to D.C.

But that's not the way CNN framed the story. They framed it as "Obama and Biden are hypocrites on the Bridge to Nowhere" when that clearly isn't the case, because again, the issue isn't the bridge--it's Palin's lies about it.

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