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McPalin, OBiden, and Earmarks

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Following are excerpts from the StarTribune's comment section on an Associated Press story titled McCain equates earmarks with corruption even though Palin is seeking earmarks herself.

First, a bit of AP’s reporting for context:

FAIRFAX, Va. - Republican presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, equated lawmakers' requests for funding for special projects with corruption on Wednesday even though Palin herself has requested nearly $200 million in so-called "earmarks" this year.

Palin has sought $197 million worth of earmarks for 2009, down about 25 percent from the $256 million she sought in the 2008 budget year. As mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, she hired a lobbyist to seek federal money for special projects. Wasilla obtained 14 earmarks, totaling $27 million, between 2000-2003, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hasn't asked for any earmarks this year. The Illinois senator sought $311 million in such funding last year. McCain, an Arizona senator, doesn't seek earmarks for his state.

Several comments then accused Palin and McCain of hypocrisy. I jumped in with this:

Cash Tornado

An executive (mayor/governor/CEO/business-owner/community organizer) has a duty to gather benefits and funding for their organization. If the government is handing out money, it would be poor management not to ask for ask much as is legal.

It's like there's a game show "cash tornado", and the Exec is the one to step in and grab as much as possible. As the executive of your own life, how much cash would you try to grab?

The people who actually hand out the cash which fills the tornado (legislators) have a different duty. They're supposed to be good stewards and make wise handouts. If one believes there should be no quid-pro-quo corruption-inducing earmarks, it seems consistent not to seek them.

posted by foxmarks on Sep. 10, 08 at 3:33 PM

Hypocrisy Abounds

So, she should seek out the earmarks for her state because they exist.... Okay, I get that argument. Now, how is it that she can campaign against them? In the midst of speaking out against them, shouldn't they at least acknowledge her usage of them -- and explain? Palin isn't allowed to speak on her own yet, so I understand why she hasn't addressed this.

posted by Tracy7 on Sep. 10, 08 at 3:59 PM

How to Effect Change?

Tracy7 asks, "[Palin] should seek out the earmarks for her state because they exist.... Okay, I get that argument. Now, how is it that she can campaign against them?" It seems quite common for good people to work within a system they find immoral or corrupt even as they work to change that system.

Effecting change from within is often easier and almost always less violent than change from outside the system. In the Civil Rights movement, people still ate at segregated lunch counters, they did not blow them up. Jefferson owned slaves but thought it immoral and sought the end of slavery.

Those who take part in a repugnant system may be simply pragmatic, or possibly gaining power and influence hoping to use their position one day to effect change or abolish the system which empowered them.

As a personal example, if you suspect the voting system or ballot is tainted or corrupt, wouldn't you still go vote? Standing on some abstract purity of principle can be a personal luxury (or mark of integrity).

When others depend on you, say when one goes to a job to feed their family, any anti-corporate wage-slave principles are set aside for higher-order needs. Are people working at Walmart (even as they protest the working conditions) spineless hypocrites just as most here take Palin to be?

posted by foxmarks on Sep. 10, 08 at 8:46 PM

[no subject]

foxmarks... The fact remains. Palin can't claim she didn't take earmarks, since she clearly did. She also can't criticize Obama for taking earmarks, since she did as well. McCain/Palin don't have a leg to stand on. This is a nonissue in that regard.

posted by hnnr03 on Sep. 10, 08 at 9:00 PM

Masterful Strategy

hnnr03 seems not to understand how powers and responsibilities are divided between branches of gov't. Obama didn't take any earmarks. He can't--he is a legislator, not an executive.

So it is true that Palin cannot attack him as a "pork eater". Obama can only vote to support the corrupting mechanism of earmarks (and feed more money into it). He's a "pork producer".

McCain can challenge Obama on this, since McCain has a long history of taking zero earmarks. Obama is just a continuation of the same quid-pro-quo system.

True, Palin sought and took earmarks as part of doing her job. If OBiden starts attacking Palin for doing a good job, being a successful executive and politician, they help demonstrate her qualifications for office.

Y'all can hate McPalin for whatever reason, but the relative positioning on the earmarks issue strongly favors them. Whoever is responsible for this current McPalin strategy seems to have made a brilliant move. If you want OBiden to win, I suggest finding another issue.

posted by foxmarks on Sep. 10, 08 at 11:17 PM