the president said it today, and he's right: there are good earmarks.
one-liners like "$935,000 for pasteurization of shell eggs!?" or "$951,500 for the oregon solar highway?" were batted around in the back and forth over the omnibus spending bill without any explanation of what these projects actually are. john mccain railed on each of them, day after day, as though one was just as bad as the next.
it might have been helpful for mccain to stop talking to us like we're uneducated children and argue why iowa doesn't need money to study pig odor (iowa's 20 million hogs and 3 million people aren't the only ones who think this a legitimate issue: your federal government has been studying how to control hog odor for years.)
but president obama should have heeded his former rival's advice today. he needed to learn from the republican party and say no.
yes, earmarks accounted for less than 2% of the bill, republicans were responsible for 40% of these earmarks, and obama laid out fairly specific earmark reform going forward. and yes, sending this bill back to congress would have caused a big fight at a time when there are more important things to pay attention to.
but by vetoing this bill, the president could have sent a strong signal not only to republicans, but to fellow democrats and ultimately, to the country.
mccain is right. this was an opportunity missed.