We can argue about the importance of earmark transparency or porkbusting, but we don't need to argue about Rep. John Murtha's (D-Penn.) tact. He doesn't have any.
"After a recent House vote, [Murtha] stopped for a moment in the lobby adjacent to the House floor, just steps from his corner, to take a question from a reporter about the difficulty of piecing together which members got how much money for which projects in his bill."
"Murtha answered abruptly before walking away. 'So, you have to work,' he said. 'Tough [expletive].'"
I asked Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex., profiled briefly but glowingly here) what he thought of this. "My mother doesn't permit me to use the language that Congressman Murtha uses," he said. But he could see what made him Hulk out: "Transparency is his worst nightmare."
Hensarling, who's lost a number of floor fights on earmarks (see here), argued that Democratic reforms have been weaker and more loophole-ridden than the 11th hour GOP reforms of 2006, which is different than what Rep. Jeff Flake told me earlier this year. The new majority had a short honeymoon with reform and then lurched back into Murthaism. "I really think that this is the soft underbelly of the Democratic party," Hensarling said. "I hope our own party will be smart enough to realize that."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who isn't as averse to earmarking as Hensarling, said Democratic earmark reforms are, indeed, crafted to obfuscate where the pork is. "You'll see the names in one part, the recipients in another part. If you put the earmark in you should be proud enough to put your name next to it. Hide and seek is not what we're supposed to do here."
(I asked my question in a rolling conference call with GOP leaders: They're happening all day and there's a liveblog here.)