ABC News has just sent out the next crop of excerpts from its interview with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. These things can be tricky to judge just from reading (Palin, for instance, came off much better on paper than on camera during last night's installment) but from the looks of it, it seems that Charlie Gibson got her to acknowledge that she was, in fact, once in favor of the Bridge to Nowhere.
CHARLES GIBSON: But you 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. So do you want to revise and extend your remarks.
SARAH PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form -- earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment.
CHARLES GIBSON: But you were for it before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time...
SARAH PALIN: I was...
CHARLES GIBSON: ... until Congress pulled the plug.
SARAH PALIN: 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.
CHARLES GIBSON: Right.
SARAH PALIN: What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now.
Now, this is not a definitive, "yes, I once supported the Bridge to Nowhere statement." It would have been politically suicidal for Palin to make that claim after the McCain campaign has been arguing for a week -- against countervailing evidence -- the exact opposite. But by acknowledging that she was "for infrastructure in the state" and adding that it wasn't "inappropriate" for Congress to provide those funds, Palin is, in essence, defending her support for the process by which the project came to be. That's an acknowledgment that she did, at one point in time, back the bridge -- an admission the McCain campaign has refused to make.
Other news outlets, it should be noted, are reading this entirely differently. ABC, for instance, is running with the headline: GOV. SARAH PALIN BLASTS CONGRESSIONAL SPENDING, INSISTS SHE OPPOSED 'BRIDGE TO NOWHERE,'" and Mark Halperin, over at Time, writes "Palin Insists She Opposed "Bridge to Nowhere." The actual footage could go a long way towards pinpointing her answer.
Of course, all this is a somewhat unnecessary and lawyerly debate as the facts seem all but indisputable: Palin expressed support for the Bridge To Nowhere during her gubernatorial campaign. When the topic became an issue of embarrassment for Alaskans, and when Congress pulled the rug out from under it (though the state got to keep the funds), she opposed the project and put the final nail in the coffin. Case closed.
Not so clear is what she means when she says: "What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now."
The bridge was never built. And the ferry that served as a connector to Gravina Island was there even before the earmark became so infamous.