04/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

John McCain and the Tale of the Earmarks

No, not earwigs. Or ear worms.


Senator John McCain is really rattling the cage this week about "earmarks" -- those special requests in the federal budget that allow lawmakers to get a few hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars here or there for pet projects they claim their constituents need. McCain says he is SOOO against them. And to a certain extent, he's better than many. But he's not pure as the driven snow when it comes to extra money, no matter what his Twitter stream says.

Getting on his soapbox about earmarks is a great political move in this economic climate. When we're all trying to make ends meet, who wouldn't be against federal funds to buy a trolley or to pay for streetscaping? My problem is the whole 'he who lives in glass houses' thing.

McCain likes to split hairs over the definition of an earmark -- he seems to think the term only applies if you're trying to put a spending plan in the budget on the down-low. Somehow, if you're up front about wanting to spend $10 million on some law school facility named for the late Supreme Court Chief Justice (from McCain's home state) William Rehnquist that's OK. Or you shouldn't be painted with the bad brush of federal earmarks if you choose someone like Sarah Palin, a true earmark expert, to be your VP running mate.

It's easy for Senator McCain to make excuses for why his requests and actions should be OK but not others. McCain (or his staff) is on a Twitter campaign to convince us that he has our budget interests at heart and that the Democrats are going on a wild earmark spree!

Don"t. You. Believe. It.

Joanne Bamberger is a professional writer and political/social media analyst & consultant. She hangs out around the blogosphere at her political blog, PunditMom, as well as at BlogHer, where she's a contributing editor for News & Politics, and MOMocrats.