On the occasion of John McCain’s tour of Gotham, the Democratic National Committee has a fun to read map up of all the Big Apple federal funding that McCain has opposed for being political pork. Some examples.
2006 $250,000 In The FY2006 Transportation Appropriations Bill: Williamsburg Bridge Plaza improvement, Brooklyn
2008 $282,000 In The FY2008 Commerce/State/Justice Appropriations Bill: Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy at-risk youth programs
2002 $600,000 In The FY2002 Interior Appropriations Bill: Statue of Liberty [Ellis Island seawall repair planning]
This is not the first time that the DNC has come after McCain on his opposition to federal spending. The interesting thing is that the McCain camp seems to welcome this sort of attack. McCain’s advisers have bet that the anti-pork, anti-federal spending message will trump the provincial concerns of people who like their local pork. “They are neither under our skin nor winning that argument,” said Charlie Black, a senior McCain adviser, about the DNC attacks at a recent lunch with reporters. “I haven’t seen public data on this, so let me not elaborate for the moment, but a huge majority of people, [about] 75 percent think the federal government spends too much and wastes a lot of money. Ask them about pork barrel projects that’s the biggest number of all.”
But the DNC attacks do strike a nerve. Many of the billions in so-called “pork” that comes out of Congress go to things like bridges and after-school programs and foreign aide that lots of Americans support. It’s not all Woodstock Museums and “Bridges to Nowhere.” Rhetorically, McCain likes to talk as if all the billions of dollars now being spent on earmarks can just be eliminated from the federal budget, but the bottom line is if that happened, there would be an outcry among local communities. (In the fine print, McCain says he does not mind some of this spending as long as it goes through the regular budget process, a fact that seems to undermine his claims of billions in savings.)
Rarely in presidential politics do you have a battle in which opponents attack each other with the same message. Both McCain and the DNC want you to know that McCain wants to cut pork projects. Before long, pollsters will tell us who is winning debate among swing voters. In the meantime, we can expect many more maps from the DNC, and more talks by McCain about the DNA of bears.
UPDATE: The DNC is not the only party organization lobbing bombs. Barack Obama says “Yes We Can.” The RNC says “Can We Ask?” See the GOP’s new (interactive-ish) attack site here, which appropriates the chants of Obama supporters and tries to turn them against him. Welcome to the general election, America.