It may be weird to have a member of the Republican leadership say out loud that their goal as a party, in a time of crisis, is to lower Democratic approval ratings, but come on, we all knew this, right? Their public statements are carefully crafted to nitpick elements of spending bills that sound more outrageous that they actually are. When those examples of "wasteful spending" aren't in the bill, they make them up. And then they offer amendments on them anyway.
Interestingly enough, all three of Kyl's amendments deal with U.S. policy towards Palestine at a time when signs are pointing to a possible unity government by Fatah and Hamas. The most eyebrow-raising of the three, however, is a bid to prevent any government money from being used to resettle Palestinian refugees from Gaza to America.
As the Mondoweiss blog explains, an Internet rumor making the rounds on the right has accused President Obama of signing an order to resettle hundreds of thousands of Hamas sympathizers in the U.S. ... without a grain of truth to it.
Heck, the entire conception of starting a firestorm around earmarks is self-evidently ridiculous. The elimination of earmarks doesn't reduce spending by one penny - all an earmark does is direct appropriations to a specific project. Without them, money would be appropriated by an executive branch bureaucrat. And Republicans know that.
“I voted to take all earmarks out, but I will come back in the new process and put that back in,” Graham insisted, saying that the convention center is important to stimulate the local economy. “I think I should have the ability as a United States senator to direct money back to my state as long as it’s transparent and it makes sense.”
So of course the entire GOP game plan is to embarrass Democrats. Unfortunately, so far it has succeeded only in embarrassing themselves. But those are only the short-term ramifications. Over the long term, all they are doing is chipping away at the notion that government can perform its core function, demonizing the activities of the Congress, evoking mistrust in elected officials, and poisoning the whole notion of federal spending. That's their REAL project.