The spectacle of the pork-laden farm bill sailing through both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities is disgusting enough if you imagine that its supporters are simply political hacks doing what they think is necessary to stay in power. They are, of course, but they don't necessarily see it that way. Since politicians would not be politicians if they did not believe the public interest coincided with their own ambitions, they have a remarkable ability to see blatant pandering, logrolling, and vote buying as not only necessary but noble. Hence Barack Obama's bizarre claim that passing the favor-filled farm bill is a way of standing up to "the special interests." Or consider the response from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, to President Bush's veto threat:
Obviously, I have been very disappointed in the comments coming out of the White House. But we do have a strong vote in both the House and the Senate, and I think that shows you that in a complex piece of legislation like this, and it truly is because it touches so many different areas of so many different aspects of agriculture and food production, as well as nutrition and conservation and energy, that there is something in this bill for every member of the House and every member of the Senate.
If Congress passed legislation giving each representative and senator $1 million in taxpayer's money to spend as he saw fit, there would also be something in the bill for every member of the House and every member of the Senate. By Chambliss' logic, raiding the public treasury in this way would be clearly fair and justified. The scary thing is, I don't think he's faking it. He really is indignant about Bush's veto threat, because he really does believe that serving the public interest is a matter of doing favors for lots and lots of special interests.