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January 01, 2006
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: I'm offering only one prediction for 2006. It's that pork, and corruption, will be big issues. (In this, I actually agree with Kos).
The Abramoff story, though made awkward for Democrats by the fact that it involves a lot of Democrats, too, is still bad for the Republicans. And the pork issue continues to resonate -- and the pork/corruption connection is pretty clear. The Wall Street Journal was editorializing on that Friday (subscription only):
Alaska's junta of leading politicians is determined to have their bridges. Earlier this month Governor Murkowski proposed a downpayment of $91 million on the project -- to be built with federal, albeit non-earmarked, dollars of course. Some $94 million was allocated for another bridge to be called Don Young's Way, after the state's only Congressman.
What's especially suspicious here is that Governor Murkowski's wife Nancy and three of her siblings own 33 acres of land on the island that would benefit from the first bridge. A relative of Mr. Young's, meanwhile, owns land that would benefit from the second.
But as the Journal notes, though this case is especially egregious, it's emblematic of deeper systemic failures, not just a few crooked politicians. The Washington Post was editorializing on this issue, too, and I think that it will heat up this year.
Republicans need to be worried about this. The temptation will be to try to shore up their position by buying votes, but the GOP base is offended by this stuff and may be motivated to stay home. As always, the GOP's best hope lies in the Democrats doing something stupid. But that's a hope, not a strategy, notwithstanding how well it's worked in the past.
Limiting pork -- which will require structural changes in the House and Senate -- is not only a good political move. It's the right thing to do. The question is whether the GOP will be smart enough, and principled enough, to do something that's both smart, and right. I'm not overly optimistic about that. But who knows? Maybe enough members of Congress will read Joel Miller's book!
UPDATE: I just noticed that the page for Joel Miller's book has a review by Patrick Hynes of AnkleBitingPundits.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Tapscott comments: "Barring something momentous happening on the terrorism front that makes domestic issues pale in significance, 2006 looks to me to be the year the GOP gets a hard lesson in why telling the truth is vastly more important than getting re-elected."