Unsurprisingly, Cochran tried to keep earmarks alive, as such federally funded gifts to specific interests back home were among the things he was known for. The GOP establishment in Mississippi—folks such as former Sen. Trent Lott and former Gov. Haley Barbour—explicitly pointed to Cochran’s unparalleled ability to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan as a reason to give him a seventh term as senator. “Over the years, we’ve had to fight for funds,” explained Lott in an ad. “Without Thad Cochran we could lose some of these important facilities.” For his part, Barbour stressed “how much [Cochran] has helped and can continue to help Mississippi.”
That such “contributions” are paid for by taxpayers in California, New York, Texas, Delaware, and elsewhere doesn’t seem to bother many Republicans or even Democrats. The Democrats I can understand: They are explicitly in favor of bigger government, whether it’s paid for or not.
But the Republicans? They’re supposed to be the party of fiscal discipline and good, old-fashioned values like paying your own way and keeping government small, limited, and constitutional. Republicans, it turns out, have no shame and no excuse for not just putting up with the likes of Cochran but rushing to his defense at the very moment he was—finally—going to have to search for honest work.