It's Not An Eamark if You Close Your Eyes and Wish Real Hard

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 24 2010 12:28 PM

It's Not An Eamark if You Close Your Eyes and Wish Real Hard

The most interesting part of this story on Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) slipping $200 million for an Arizona/native tribe settlement into a larger settlement bill is the quote from Jeff Flake, giving it the seal of approval.

"You have to do these water settlements or allow the courts to simply award damages," said Rep. Jeff Flake , R-Ariz., perhaps the most anti-earmark member of Congress. "An earmark is something when an individual gets a goodie for their district outside of the regular legislative process."

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Is that all it takes? Democrats are trying very hard to drum up a charge of hypocrisy here; they know that Tea Partiers don't see the nuances that Kyl sees. But this is the second example recently of a Republican re-defining (or trying to re-define) what "earmarks" are. First Michele Bachmann explained that transportation projects shouldn't be tarred as "earmarks," then this.

"That's not going to go down well, but I don't think Tea Partiers are focusing on that right now," said Andrew Ian Dodge, a Maine Tea Partier I was talking to this morning. "The TSA is the thing that everybody cares about now." But after I shared more of the details with Dodge, he revised his opinion. "Absolutely bloody daft," he said. "He seems to be keen to back away from GOP promises faster than the did in '94. If there is an example of why the tea party movement needs to keep a keen eye on the GOP this is it."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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