Coburn tartly notes that although Congress hardly needs 5,500 earmarks — half of last year’s total — the president’s goal would be met if Republicans themselves quit earmarking. That fact goes far to explain the Republicans’ current and future minority status. ~George Will

It is one of the stranger aspects of the GOP’s collapse that presidential candidates and mainstream pundits identify earmarks as the gravest and most damaging example of power’s corrupting effects on the party and one of the chief reasons for their loss of the majority.  Certainly this sort of spending does not help an already ruined reputation for fiscal responsibility, but as a diagnosis of the real souce of the political problems of the party it is ludicrous.  What is most bizarre of all is that the use of earmarks, while prone to frequent abuse and excess, is one of few examples in recent years in which elected Republicans could be accused of attempting to use their power on behalf of their actual constituents.  That there was virtually nothing else on the agenda during the 109th Congress and nothing else done, whether to constrain government in the interests of citizens or to make it work on their behalf, might explain the Republicans’ minority status more effectively than yet another sermon on the evils of pork.  The fixation on earmarks reflects the exhaustion of policy ideas in the GOP, it reveals the stubborn blindness among Republicans to just how politically perilous their foreign policy has become in the last five years, and above all it drives home how truly disconnected the party has become from its constituents that it thinks the utterly insider question of earmarks has been a major influence on voters’ decisions.