Only one problem exists for this scenario: Governors cannot earmark. Indeed, governors may not make any formal input to federal legislation in the least.
The Wall Street Journal needs to reread the Constitution.
The problem with earmarks lies less in their often seemingly trivial and non-federal import than in the unaccountable mechanism by which individual federal legislators turn them into law. Earmarks lead to corruption by allowing individual legislators to reward constituents and contributors without having to stand up and argue publicly for spending the funds. In short, earmarks represent a defect in the parliamentary procedure of the federal Congress. The term “earmark” isn’t simply shorthand for “federal spending I do not like.”
As such, earmarks represent a flaw in the federal Congress, not the state governments. No one in state government can “request” an earmark. An official of a state government can only (1) apply for federal funds made available through existing federal legislation or (2) make an informal request to the state’s federal representatives that they argue for particular funding. In neither case is the governor responsible for how the federal government makes the funding available.
Trying to tie Palin to earmarks requires constructing a straw-man representation of her and McCain’s arguments in which they argue that the government should never spend federal money on specific state projects. Since they haven’t done so but, rather, merely argued for reforming the parliamentary procedure of the federal Congress, to make it more accountable, this article provides no new insight into Palin.
Of course, we all know how this is going to play out in the media, don’t we? We all know this will show up in the campaign arguments of that professor of constitutional law, Barack Obama.
[update (2008.9.15.11:24): Sometimes you get so incredibly lucky. The first post in the thread beloowhighlights exactly the kind of argument I expect to see against Palin i.e. the state of Alaska requested money from the federal government therefor Palin requested earmarks. This will soon become revealed wisdom for leftist and questioning it will be heresy.]