Two messages are legible in Congress' overriding of President Bush's veto of a $23 billion water projects bill.
One is that, Democratic or Republican, Congress loves local spending.
The other is that Bush is finished, at least on the domestic front. The most he can do is stop Congress through an ongoing series of vetoes, making Democrats look ineffectual, but also underscoring his own record of reckless spending when Republicans ran Congress and played footsie with lobbyists.
Republicans defected from Bush en masse last week as the House voted 361-54 to override the president's veto and the Senate followed with a 79-14 vote. It was the first time Congress had overridden a veto by this president.
As rebukes go, it was a stinger, though not because it was unpredictable.
The legislation will spread millions of dollars around the country and while some of it is pure pork, it also includes money for the Gulf Coast, still recovering from the 2005 hurricanes, and for Everglades restoration in Florida.
In Western New York, it includes $500,000 to study the feasibility of building a small-scale hydroelectric facility on the Niagara River.
The most startling aspect of the veto override isn't that it was done, it's the number of opportunities Bush is suddenly giving Congress. Having emptied the treasury in his first six years in office -- when, but for a brief period, Republicans controlled the legislative branch -- Bush has suddenly discovered fiscal conservatism.
He has vetoed six measures in his presidency, all of them since Democrats won control of Congress last year. Two of them were on children's health care. Friday, the House fell just two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto of an education spending bill.
Here's what Bush said Tuesday after vetoing a bill on health and education measures: "The [congressional] majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager with a new credit card." Change "majority" to "Bush administration" and you've got a good description of this White House's record of spending.
Indeed, conservatives have complained bitterly about the administration's profligacy. It is not coincidence that the scales have fallen from his eyes only now, as Republicans desperately try to salvage their weakening grip on power. It is pure opportunism, which is all that is left to the president. That's what happens when the country gets tired of a policy of governing for the fringe.