American politicians born without honesty or courage genes have been hoodwinking susceptible, unthinking voters with fairy tales and outright lies since the country's founding. Some of the most morally bankrupt of that crowd, however, have just pulled off the cheesiest intellectual swindle of our time.
Turns out that the shrillest, most savage opponents of the $787 billion stimulus spending legislation actually lusted for stimulus money.
Leading Republicans who willingly and fraudulently painted stimulus spending as Obama "socialism," as a no-jobs fraud, as more big government and voted against it rushed to the front of the line to apply for millions of stimulus dollars.
Every last one of the self-righteous anti-stimulus "preachers" who turned out to be a sinner used the same flimflam—their "principle" wouldn't allow them to vote for stimulus spending, but once it was passed—Aha!—their two-faced "principle" suddenly morphed into the "principle" of getting their share. Idaho's Republican-tilting Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick used that gimmick.
They even resorted to double-talk in asking President Obama's Transportation, Energy and Commerce departments for millions—their requests were called "lettermarks," rather than the detested "earmarks." An "earmark" by any other name is an "earmark."
My, my. Even Arizona's Sen. John McCain, once the scourge of "earmarks" and who haughtily claimed, "No one has questioned my honor," went to the trough asking for energy funds for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and for three commerce projects. When voting against the stimulus, McCain proclaimed, "I don't see this legislation doing anything good."
How extensive was the rush for bucks? The Center for Public Integrity obtained copies of 2,000 letters from House and Senate members asking for funds. One estimate has the stimulus program launching 15,000 projects nationwide, implicitly refuting GOP claims that no jobs have been created.
Republican poster boy Sen. Scott Brown, who made such a claim, requested funds for Massachusetts broadband projects.
Indiana's Mike Pence condemned Obama's stimulus as "job killing"—then asked for funds for biofuel, urban paths and money to reduce urban train noise, each of them promoting "broad-based green job creation."
Just as shameless was Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped stir up national animosity for the stimulus bill—"an enormous amount of money on things that won't make much of a difference," he sneered—but wrote five requests for stimulus funds, including $20 million for a new Kentucky bridge to "create jobs and move goods."
Jobs and moving goods. Yep, such is Sen. McConnell's idea of wasting money.