04/02/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Earmarks" in Omnibus Budget Bill: Not Pork, Just Obama Proving He Can Be Taught

John McCain, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, and other Republicans are shocked, shocked that there are -- shudder -- earmarks in the budget bill that's currently before Congress. And they're shocked, even though (despite their convenient denials) they were neck-deep in the negotiating process and inserted plenty of earmarks of their own. The current G.O.P. meme: the presence of localized spending promises in the federal budget proves Obama's really just another tax-and-spend liberal who, if we're not careful, will nationalize the steel industry. (Or the banks.) And many talking heads are buying into that meme.

How short people's memories are, in this era when nothing longer than 140 characters can stick in our minds. Obama got beat up some in the recovery package -- but He Can Be Taught. When NPR's Mara Liasson asked him what he had learned from that experience back on Feb. 9, he answered:

I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with
no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some and then let them
take credit for all of them. And maybe that's the lesson I learned.

In other words: next time I propose legislation, I'll make sure I include some stuff I can negotiate away so that "compromise" winds up being pretty close to what I wanted in the first place.

So there's some pork in the budget, and Republicans want it out, and if some of it comes out then they can claim they made Obama blink, and maybe they'll vote for it? Wow! I'm shocked, shocked that such a thing could ever happen in Washington.

Or, actually, I'm shocked that Obama ever thought he could get away, in Washington, with doing things any other way, when he started the ball rolling on the recovery bill. And equally shocked that John McCain, a Beltway insider if there ever was one, may actually think something other than good poker is happening now.

M.S. Bellows, Jr. writes the blog Warranted Wiretaps, which was incubated as a column for Huffington Post's election-season Off The Bus project and provides both commentary and original media, such as audio of White House press conference calls, press releases and other primary news sources.