Last week, the beleaguered Republicans in Congress finally moved on from attempting to inflict collateral damage on President Obama by ritually scourging “Reid and Pelosi.” They explicitly blamed the president for his willingness to sign a holdover appropriations bill supposedly replete with “earmarks”—a word which has now become the equivalent of a budgetary profanity. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell was too earmarked up himself to lead the charge, although he did organize behind the lines to temporarily deny the Democrats the needed sixty votes to move ahead in the Senate.

The claimed goal here was to pressure the President to threaten a veto—over earmarks that constitute about 1% of the 410 billion dollar measure—a political tactic to expose him as a hypocrite for failing to do so since he was critical of earmarks during the campaign. His criticism, however, is more muted than John McCain’s; the latter often left the impression that his entire answer to the economic crisis was eliminating earmarks like the now iconic “Bridge to Nowhere.”

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.