Murkowski: If DeMint wants to make peace with me, he can make the first move

The bit about DeMint comes at the end of the clip, after she spends a few minutes dumping on Joe Miller for frivolous ballot challenges. Not shown: Murky predictably rushing to the defense of earmarks when questioned about DeMint’s proposed ban. Pork is, after all, the raison d’etre for her candidacy (apart from holding onto power for its own sake, I mean), to the point where special interest groups actually started running ads during the campaign trumpeting her ability to siphon off federal dollars for Alaska. Much like the man who endorsed her from the grave, her political viability turns mainly on her skill at feeding at the trough. Here’s what she said to CNN, via an e-mailed transcript:

KING: So the Tea Party is wrong?

MURKOWSKI: What Inhofe — well, the Tea Party needs to — and it’s not just the Tea Party. There needs to be a clearer understanding of what an earmark really is. It’s basically something that is not included within the president’s budget.

But by eliminating earmarks, we are not reducing spending by a penny. What we are doing is we are shifting to the agency, shifting to the — to the bureaucrats within, you know, whatever department, that spending decision. I don’t think — and our constitution says it is — it is within the legislative body that that authority rests. And yet what we will be doing is essentially giving that — that authority to make those spending decisions to the agencies.

I don’t think that that’s the direction that we should go. And I think most people, particularly the Tea Party people who — who say states’ rights, well, make sure that the states have a say in it. Make sure that your state’s representative have a say in it. Don’t shift it over to the agencies for that decision-making to be done there.

Those are the same pro-earmark arguments that Inhofe’s been making all week; for a rebuttal, see Tom Coburn’s piece in Wednesday’s NRO debunking four myths about them. His third point, especially, is aimed at Murkowksi’s claim about who it is that’s ceding authority when it comes to earmarks. The whip count on DeMint’s earmark ban, incidentally, currently stands at 17-7 in favor with 21 senators still undecided before next week’s vote. John McCain is in the last group for the moment, but even he’s not “mavericky” enough to contradict a lifetime of anti-earmark rhetoric. And if Murkowski holds on to win, she’ll surely be a no. Figure it’s 18-8, then, with six more needed from the undecideds to seal a victory.

As for her shot at DeMint, hasn’t she heard? Criticizing him is officially frowned upon.