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Politics Digest

Monday, July 6, 2009

'BASELESS ALLEGATIONS'

On Twitter, Palin Lashes Out at Critics

After a low-profile Fourth of July, Sarah Palin took to Twitter this morning to decry her critics and urge supporters to weather the media criticism over her decision to resign as governor of Alaska.

"Critics are spinning, so hang in there as they feed false info on the right decision made as I enter last yr in office to not run again," she wrote through TwitterBerry, a mobile device application for the popular 140-character-per-"tweet" social-networking site.

The brief message, consistent with the tone of her Friday news conference, during which she condemned as "blood sport" the national political process, came after a morning of Washington talk shows that dissected her decision to resign 18 months before the end of her term.

Much of the commentary about the governor's abrupt exit was sharply negative, including analysis from her fellow Republicans. On ABC's "This Week," a roundtable of political strategists and reporters spent a good chunk of time speculating about her mental state in harsh terms that were first put forward by panelist Todd S. Purdum in a withering Vanity Fair article last week.

"So I'll make attempt to keep up w/attaching corrected info. I head 2 West AK villages today, look forward to their busy comm fish activity!" Palin wrote in a follow-up tweet.

It was the third time in half a day that Palin had taken to Twitter in an attempt to push back at the speculation about why she has chosen to leave office. Late Friday night, Palin tweeted, "See letter from my attorney on baseless allegations of past 24hrs @ http://tinyurl.com/l4ct5n."

That letter was a detailed point-by-point refutation of allegations circulating on blogs about a rumored investigation that Thomas Van Flein, Palin's private attorney, said did not exist.

"Several unscrupulous people have asserted false and defamatory allegations that the 'real' reasons for Governor Palin's resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex," Van Flein wrote. "This canard was first floated by Democrat operatives in September 2008 during the national campaign and followed up by sympathetic Democratic writers. It was easily rebutted then as one of many fabrications about Sarah Palin."

The letter also made it clear that Palin's growing animosity toward members of the media. "Just as power abhors a vacuum, modern journalism apparently abhors any type of due diligence and fact checking before scurrilous allegations are repeated as fact," her attorney wrote, warning media outlets that there would be legal ramifications should they repeat the blog allegations.

"The Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law," the lawyer wrote.

-- Garance Franke-Ruta

and Scott Wilson

'NO ONE ANTICIPATED . . .'

Biden: White House 'Misread' Recession

Vice President Biden acknowledged Sunday that the administration underestimated the depth of the economic recession months ago as it prepared a recovery package that is just beginning to take effect.

"We misread how bad the economy was, but we are now only about 120 days into the recovery package," Biden said on ABC's "This Week." "The truth of the matter was, no one anticipated, no one expected that that recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having distributed the bulk of the money."

Figures released last week showed that the national unemployment rate has reached 9.5 percent, and that the economy is still shedding nearly half a million jobs a month.

President Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus package within his first month in office to slow the economic slide by replacing retreating private-sector demand, in part, with government spending.

But criticism has been mounting from the left and right, albeit for different reasons, that the plan was misconceived.

Administration officials have argued for weeks that the economic projections made before Obama took office presented an overly optimistic view of the economy, a case Biden reiterated in blunt terms Sunday.

Conservative critics have used the mounting job losses to argue that the stimulus package -- a mix of government spending and tax cuts -- should have been tilted more toward the latter.

Meanwhile, liberal economists such as Paul Krugman have argued for more public spending now, just as the stimulus money begins trickling into the economy.

After acknowledging the economic "misreading," Biden said that "the second question becomes: Did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we're in?"

"And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we're in," he said.

Asked if a second stimulus package is needed, Biden said it is "premature to make that judgment."

Instead, he said, the administration will monitor the effect of the government spending in the coming months, as the public works projects financed by federal money move from the planning stage to the hiring and construction phase.

"And so this is just starting," Biden said. "The pace of the ball is now going to increase."

-- Scott Wilson

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