I understand why it’s an issue. I understand why it keeps getting run up the flagpole. I understand that it’s a flawless example of the flip-flopping that Republicans have gotten away with time and time again while Democrats are shot down for it.
But I am goddamned tired of hearing about the Bridge To Nowhere.
Here’s the thing about that bridge. Yes. It was expensive. Yes. It was pork barrel. Yes. From almost anybody’s point of view, it was pretty literally a bridge to nowhere. It was meant to connect Ketchikan, an island city of some 8,000 people, to its own airport, which is on a separate island. Currently the way to get to the airport is via ferry.
I will not argue that this bridge appears to be an insanely frivolous use of money. Even a lot of Alaskans think so. However, Ketchikan is probably the fifth largest city in the state, and a fairly major tourist and commerce hub. In any other state (with the possible exception of Hawai’i), I suspect that it would be a no-brainer that you would both want and be able to drive conveniently to the fifth largest city’s airport.
Alaska’s geography is rather extraordinary. There are enormously large portions of the state you cannot drive to, including the state capitol. We rely on airplanes to a vastly larger degree than the rest of the country. Sitka, the fourth largest city, also has an airport on a separate island, and a bridge to it. There are maybe 9000 people in Sitka. This is another bridge to nowhere by nearly anyone’s standards, but it is of significance and importance to the people who live there.
I realize that none of this is the point brought up by pundits. Their point is either that Sarah Palin rejected the Bridge to Nowhere, or that she in fact didn’t reject it until the federal funding dried up. What she told the people of Ketchikan–words that helped her get elected governor, incidentally–was that “They weren’t nowhere to her.” (The people of Ketchikan are, by the way, apparently really pissed off at Palin now. Not because the funding for the bridge got cut, but because she changed her tune and is now singing that they *are* “nowhere”.)
And that’s why I’m tired of hearing about it. I understand that from a national perspective, Ketchikan’s the back end of beyond, that it’s a dumb place to spend a few hundred million dollars on an bridge that’s only going to be useful for a few thousand people, yadda yadda yadda. I understand that I’m shouting into the wind and I realize that until Sarah Palin was nominated as the VP candidate, at least half of America and a significant portion of the world thought Alaska was part of Canada, or possibly off the coast of California, as it is often shown in school maps. I also realize that perspective is not something found in great quantity in political discussion, but none the less, in perspective the Gravina Island Bridge project was not inherently the worst idea in the world, and I am just sick to death of seeing it slammed around the media. If the media wants to have a field day, why don’t they focus on something with substance? How about Palin’s slashing of funding for teen pregnancy programs? [eta: shadowhwk/Sarah provides a legitimate dismissal of this, proving that I should’ve thought to take the research step she did.] How about how, under her stint as Mayor, rape victims in Wasilla had to pay for their own rape kits? How about the newly-presented argument that the reason she had public safety director Walt Monegan fired was not because of an ugly divorce from her sister, but because of his “last-straw” insubordination in wanting to go to Washington to seek funding for an anti-rape program in the state with the highest per capita rate rape in the US?
Several people have asked me what, as an Alaskan, I can tell them of Alaskan politics, Sarah Palin, and the political scenario in the States right now. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it. Apparently that’s what I’m doing now, so I might as well keep going. I’ll spare the flist and put the rest behind a cut tag. :p( Collapse )
(x-posted from the essential kit)