Top 8 Myths, Lies and Untruths About Sarah Palin (Updated)
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been subjected to an intense amount of media and public scrutiny since she was named as John McCain’s vice presidential pick one week ago. Many of the attacks have come in the form of unconfirmed reports on the Internet. Among them:
1) Palin “Joined a Secessionist Political Party”
The Charge: Unsubstantiated Internet reports insisted Palin was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party, which critics call a secessionist political movement and supporters say is dedicated to seeking greater state control over federal lands across Alaska.
The Facts: Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982. There is no record of her ever being a member of the AIP, or any party but the GOP. Palin’s husband has been a member of the AIP in the past, but since 2002 has been a registered independent.
2) Palin Supported a “Nazi Sympathizer”
The Charge: “Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or, as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer,” Obama Florida spokesman Mark Bubriski was quoted as saying in a Miami Herald article.
The Facts: While mayor of Wasilla, Palin wore a Buchanan button during the sometimes presidential candidate’s 1999 visit. But Palin actually supported Steve Forbes in 2000, and served as a co-chair on his Alaska campaign.
In the weeks after the 1999 report of her wearing the Buchanan button, Palin said: “When presidential candidates visit our community, I am always happy to meet them. I’ll even put on their button when handed one as a polite gesture of respect. … The article may have left your readers with the perception that I am endorsing this candidate, as opposed to welcoming his visit to Wasilla.”
3) Palin “Wants Creationism Taught in School”
The Charge: Palin opposes the teaching of evolution, and would mandate the teaching of creationism in the state’s public schools.
The Facts: Palin said during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign that she would not push the state Board of Education to add creation-based alternatives to the state’s required curriculum, or look for creationism advocates when she appointed board members. She has kept this pledge, according to the Associated Press.
Palin has spoken in favor of classroom discussions of creationism, in some cases. “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum,” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in a 2006 interview.
(See: ‘Creation science’ enters the race; Palin is only candidate to suggest it should be discussed in schools. By Tom Kizzia, Anchorage Daily News, 27 October 2006)
4) Palin “Was Nearly Recalled” While Mayor
The Charge: Palin was so controversial as mayor of Wasilla that she was almost recalled by a popular voter movement.
The Facts: The Wasilla City Council considered but never took up a recall motion after she fired a longtime police chief, who subsequently brought a lawsuit. A citizen’s group dropped their recall bid, and a judge ruled Palin had the authority to fire the chief.
5) Palin “Opposes Sex Education”
The Charge: Palin opponents say she supported the end of all sex education in public schools. In light of her daughter’s presumably unplanned teen pregnancy, this has been a particularly well discussed Internet topic.
The Facts: “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” Palin wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates. Palin favors abstinence-based sex education programs.
(See: McCain fought money on teen pregnancy programs, By Sharon Theimer, Associated Press, Sept. 2, 2008)
6) “This Picture Proves Palin is …”
The Charge: A slew of fake, Photoshopped or misdated photographs on the Internet purport to show Palin in any number of embarrassing or compromising poses. One photo claimed to show Palin standing poolside, wearing an American flag-themed bikini, toting a rifle with telescopic sight.
The Facts: The various photos are being discredited and shown to be fake on a number of Web sites. The original of the so-called bikini shot, probably the best-known of the pictures, was shown to have been taken of another woman, with Palin’s head Photoshopped above the body.
(See: Call to Arms)
.7) Palin is the grandmother, and not the mother, of Trig Palin
The Charge: The most salacious rumor of all, this theory holds that Palin did not give birth to her son Trig in April, and was actually covering up for her daughter, Bristol.
The Facts: There are a number of photographs showing an apparently pregnant Sarah Palin, as well as a number of published eyewitness accounts of her pregnancy. These include First Lady Laura Bush, who says she spoke with a pregnant Palin at a governor’s conference in February. An assignment manager for KTVA news in Anchorage, Cherie Shirey, has also been quoted saying: “We worked with Governor Palin many times in 2008. Our reporters worked her on location and in the studio and I worked with her myself. She was definitely pregnant. You could see it in her belly and her face. The whole idea that Sarah Palin wasn’t pregnant with Trig is completely, absolutely absurd.”
The McCain campaign, in an apparent effort to counteract the rumors, announced last weekend that Bristol Palin is five months pregnant, which indicated she would have become pregnant before Trig was born.
8 ) Governor Palin slashed funding for a program supporting teen mothers
The Charge: he Washington Post’s Paul Kane reported that “Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms.” The far-left Huffington Post repeated the story the next day, and it was off and running. To support this contention, Kane produced the 2008 Alaska budget, along with Governor Palin’s line-item reductions. Kane said, “Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million.”
The Facts: Covenant House Alaska is a faith-based, not-for-profit agency which provides a variety of services to troubled teens, including a home for teen moms. Although the work with adolescent mothers is only one component of Covenant’s services, Kane focused on this particular aspect of its work. His focus was not a surprise, given the revelation that Governor Palin’s teen daughter is five months pregnant. Covenant House requested additional state funding to help expand housing capacity. The legislature agreed that expansion was a worthy objective and allocated the substantial sum of $5 million in the proposed budget.
In Alaska, the governor is allowed to reduce budget allocations in the service of sound management and fiscal accountability. It is true that Mrs. Palin trimmed the proposed $5 million allocation to $3.9 million. However, the Washington Post did not tell readers that the state of Alaska’s 2008 allocation was three times more than Covenant House Alaska received from all government grants in 2007. According to records posted on the Covenant House Alaska website, the organization received just over $1.3 million dollars from grants in 2007 and nearly $1.2 million in 2006. Even with the reductions, Governor Palin signed a budget which provided a massive influx of support for troubled teens.
Thus, the Post report is misleading on three counts. One, the funding in question went to an organization which provides many different services, including work with teen mothers. There was no funding at issue exclusively earmarked for pregnant teens. No funds directly allocated to teen moms were slashed.
Two, the report gives the impression that the Governor reduced prior state funding levels, when, in fact, the Palin-approved budget allowed a massive expansion of funding for this faith-based organization. The organization’s total revenue for 2007, from all sources, was just over $3 million. Thus, the amount approved by Palin and the Alaska legislature was a huge increase. The money given to Covenant House cannot be considered a cut in funding; it was a raise, even if the raise was not as great as originally contemplated by the legislature.
Three, Covenant House Alaska experienced no cut in operating expenses as the result of the Palin budget. The center’s executive director, Deirdre Cronin, explained it this way in a September 4 statement:
“Despite some press reports to the contrary, our operating budget was not reduced. Our $3.9 million appropriation is directed toward a multi-year capital project and it is our understanding that the state simply opted to phase in its support for this project over several years, rather than all at once in the current budget year.”
Viewed within the context of prior expenditures, it becomes clear that Governor Palin increased funding for social services which benefit kids, not “slashed” them as the Post reported. The increase is the beginning of a multi-year investment in help for vulnerable teens. A prudent course, the state will monitor the progress of Covenant House and allocate funds over time. In this way, Palin demonstrated she is not afraid to exercise fiscal caution, even when that decision involves those of similar ideology.
Taking everything into account, a dramatically different picture of Governor Palin’s actions comes into focus. Executive Director Cronin sees it differently than Mr. Kane, saying, “We are grateful for the support we have received from Governor Sarah Palin, the Alaska legislature and our Congressional delegation over the years.”
In Washington, D.C., sometimes more is less. In Alaska, more is still more.
Your submissions and additions are welcome!