I don’t know why the Washington Post thinks it has standing to advise conservatives, but if it wants us to listen it needs to produce work more intelligent than this editorial asserting that conservatives should blame President Bush for “pork.” The Post fails to define pork or to exhibit any real understanding of the concept. For example, it complains about the medicare prescription drug bill, which is not pork but is a program for which conservatives have strenuously criticized the president. The Post also cites a 51 percent in spending on veterans. It provides no evidence that this spending increase is either pork or unjustified. And I don’t recall the Post springing to Bush’s defense when John Kerry attacked him for not spending more on veterans.
The Post viciously attacks Bush for not vetoing any spending bills, calling him a coward. Did the Post ever criticize President Clinton for not vetoing spending bills? The Post proceeds to lose it altogether when it compares Bush’s willingness to veto a defense bill that would affect our practices with respect to terrorist detainees with his unwillingness to veto spending bills. It writes: “while Mr. Bush cares fervently, and scandalously, about the imperative of keeping inhumane practices legal, he does not care as much about waste of taxpayers’ money.” This is demagoguery worthy of the Daily Kos (which at least has the decency not to advise conservatives). A president should be far more inclined to veto a bill he believes will hurt our efforts to combat terrorism, than a bill that allocates $295 billion for transportation instead of $256 billion (the Post’s only specific example of “pork” legislation it thinks Bush should have vetoed).
I must say that I find many discussions of pork, and especially the Post’s, unenlightening. For example, the Post claims that the transportation bill contains 6,000 pork projects. What does this mean? Presumably, the money is being allocated to build roads and other infrastructure. (I doubt that all 6,000 projects are bridges to nowhere). Few would deny (least of all liberals) that we need to build and repair infrastructure. So how do we determine which projects should be funded and which ones shouldn’t be? Certainly not by labeling them all pork. (Recall how the New York Times denounced a bill “shoveling $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects infrastructure in New Orleans” but then, after Katrina hit, castigated the administration for not spending more).
Pork clearly is a legitimate issue; it may even be a serious one. If so, it deserves serious discussion, not simply a bit part in the Post’s continuing assault on President Bush.
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