Small victories

Bat .050 as a position player in the major leagues and you’ll soon be driving a beer truck. But hit that low as a fiscal conservative in Congress and you’ll be likened to Babe Ruth.

Consider Rep. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who has been one of the most vocal critics of congressional “earmarks.” Last year, he tried 19 different times to kill pet projects that various colleagues had inserted into spending bills.

He fanned each time.

On Thursday, though, Rep. Flake finally got off the schneid. During floor debate of the 2008 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, Rep. Flake submitted an amendment to kill a $129,000 earmark to pay for an economic development program called “The Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree” in the district of Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Queue Jack Buck calling Kirk Gibson’s home run off Dennis Eckersley in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series: “Unbelievable! I don’t believe what I just saw.”

In other words, Rep. Flake shocked the crowd.

By a vote of 249-174 — with 100 Democrats joining the majority — Rep. Flake’s amendment passed, killing Rep. McHenry’s effort to sidle up to the trough.

“Rep. Flake has been a leader in changing the culture of wasteful spending in the nation’s capital,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C.,-based watchdog group, which labeled the politician a “superhero.”

We wish Rep. Flake the best as he works to improve his batting average. Small victories are welcome.

But what hope do taxpayers really have of battling the beltway culture when one of their top advocates can boost his Hall of Fame credentials simply by laying down a bunt single?

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