Friday, August 10, 2007

Has The GOP Base Learned ITS Lesson?

Nothing frustrated me more during last fall's mid-term election campaign than trolling the right-of-center mega-sites and seeing one article and blog post after another relentlessly bashing the Republican majority for its "addiction to pork" and its supposed need to be "taught a lesson" by being cashiered back to the minority. I simply could not understand how so many tightie-righties could throw logic out the window and think that throwing out their own party in favor of the party of Big Government was going to improve congressional performance on spending and earmarks. As Pat Buchanan wrote almost twenty years ago in a different policy context, "With the Republicans the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak; with the Democrats there is no spirit."

Well, the Club For Growth has published its interim "RePork Card" for the 110th Congress, and the results are, shall we say, vindicatory of my dissenting view pretty much across the board:

Even though the Democratic majority vowed to return Congress to a path of fiscal responsibility, the 2008 appropriations bills were stuffed with wasteful pork projects. While Representatives John Campbell, Jeff Flake, Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett, and David Obey (1 amendment) offered fifty amendments to strip outrageous pork projects from the appropriations bills, only one amendment, offered by Representative Jeff Flake, passed.

The Club for Growth has compiled a RePORK Card of all members' votes on all fifty anti-pork amendments (see below). "Taxpayers have a right to know which congressmen stand up for them and which stand up for the special interests," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "Unfortunately, the Club for Growth RePORK Card shows that most congressmen care more about lining their buddies' pockets than they care about protecting American taxpayers."
Even that general summation proves my point. We stayed home in droves, let the Donks win, and the pork/earmark problem has gotten worse, not better.

But the details are howlingly entertaining:

* Sixteen congressmen scored a perfect 100%, voting for all fifteen anti-pork amendments. They are all Republicans.

* The average Republican score was 43%. The average Democratic score was 2%.

No, ladies and gentlemen, that is not a misprint; the average House Donk voted for one out of the fifty anti-earmark amendments.

* Kudos to Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) who scored an admirable 98% - the only Democrat to score above 20%.

That's right; the second-highest Dem score was less than half of the GOP average.

* Representative David Obey (D-WI) did not vote for his own amendment to strike all earmarks in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. Representative Obey scored an embarrassing 0% overall.

And Obey is [drumroll, please] the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

[Rimshot, please]

* 105 congressmen scored an embarrassing 0%, voting against every single amendment. The Pork Hall of Shame includes 81 Democrats and 24 Republicans.

That's 77%, if you've misplaced your calculator.

* The Democratic freshmen scored an abysmal average score of 2%. Their Republican counterparts scored an average score of 78%.

This would include the allegedly "fiscally conservative" "Blue Dog" Democrats who hornswaggled their way to victory in Republican-leaning districts last November. My, but they picked up their "orientation" quickly, didn't they?

So what does all this mean, once your uncontrollable laughter finally subsides? Well, clearly the GOP only benefits if we grade on the curve. By any objective standard, 43% is a failing grade. So did our self-inflicted ass-kicking at the polls nine months ago "get the message across" to our diminished contingent on the need to "End all earmarks. Don’t just reform them. Kill them. Dead. NOW!!!!!"? Perhaps for the new 'Pubbies, but not the old guard - which is pretty much always the case with congressional Republicans. So from that standpoint tanking last November's election accomplished little or nothing.

From the standpoint of re-empowering a party that swims in pork the way Ted Kennedy swims in Olympic-size swimming pools full of gin, it was and is every bit the unmitigated disaster I knew it would be. As I said then, so I repeat now: the Democrats are orders of magnitude more "corrupt" than any Republican imagination and are equally as adept at concealing that corruption from the voters. Yet this "RePork Card" will be blacked out by the Enemy Media, and the public at large will never know which party wallows naked in the REAL "culture of corruption." All they'll hear about is Ted Stevens and Don Young and every GOP malfesant and the patently phony "ethics" bill that the Democrats passed to throw a tarp over their bread & circuses.

With....Republican connivance.

In life, most choices are not clear-cut black vs. white decision points. We don't usually get to pick between a good and a bad, or a good and a good; we usually are stuck with selecting from two or more bads. Sure, it sucks to have to choose the lesser of two evils - particularly when the lesser should be so much better - but responsibility and seriousness require it.

It is profoundly regrettable that Republican voters refused to be serious last fall when it counted the most. Now we're stuck with a party in the Beltway that is as mediocre on pork as was its majority predecessor, and the Congress is under the sway of the bunch that goes through earmarks the way Britney Speares does kneepads.

Congrats, my friends; you had to make perfection the enemy of the good, and now both are on the outside looking in at what the other side is doing to the place, while we await the mounting bill.