View Full Version : Virtue Is Its Own Reward

07-13-2011, 08:56 PM
By G. Tracy Mehan, III on 7.12.11 @ 6:08AM

During the dark days of Republican profligacy, when earmarks were the rule and GOP House and Senate members routinely voted for massive discretionary spending bills (many loaded with pork and earmarks) there was one man who bucked the tide of red ink: Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona).

"I believed the earmarks game was robbing us as Republicans of our identity as fiscal conservatives," said Flake.

Indeed, Flake was even willing to challenge earmarks of the highest-ranking Republicans, including then- House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (IL), who lost his job when the GOP was decimated in the 2006 elections for many things, including earmarks and spending, not to mention two seemingly-endless wars.

Flake routinely tried to kill indefensible earmarks for such unworthy projects as the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame or a museum dedicated to teapots. For this, he was punished severely by the powers that be, i.e., his fellow Republicans.

Jeff Flakeís story is told with sympathy by Michael Leahy in his recent article in The Washington Post ("House earmarks gadfly is case study in survival," July 11, 2011).

While noting the fall from political grace by John Edwards, Anthony Weiner and John Ensign for personal and moral failings, Leahy claims these episodes "tend to obscure the quiet stories of unlikely political comebacks in Washington, those devoid of titillation."

"Jeff Flakeís story serves as a reminder that Washington is rife with second acts," he reports.

Leahy describes how Flake was "pummeled and left for dead" by GOP colleagues due to his sustained criticism of pork-barrel spending. Indeed, even current House Speaker John Boehner, who has not dabbled in earmarking during his long career, was party to the Arizona congressmanís public humiliation, which started when Jeff Flake was stripped of his seat on the prestigious House Judiciary Committee in 2006 -- dashing his hopes of becoming committee chairman.