What Has Poli Sci Ever Done For Me?

22 Mar

Tom Coburn(Disclosure: I am college-educated.)

Why wouldn’t anyone favor money for cancer research and tuition assistance for service members, and take it from funding for the National Science Foundation which involves political science research? Wasn’t that research into the correlation between democracies and war enough of a bribe? No, according to Tom Coburn.

Why? Who knows. Sen. Tom Coburn has been on an anti-political science kick for years for no real discernible reason. “Theories on political behavior,” he said a few years ago, “are best left to CNN, pollsters, pundits, historians, candidates, political parties, and the voters, rather than being funded out of taxpayers’ wallets.” That makes no sense, but that’s his reason, and it’s no surprise that he’s continued his jihad. What is a surprise is that he managed to get a bunch of Democrats to tag along with him on this go-around.

I don’t get it. What’s their motivation? The amount of money is trivial even by demagogue standards (“That’s four cents each and every year from every man, woman, and child in the country!”), and Democrats don’t share Coburn’s generalized know-nothing opposition to expanding the frontiers of human knowledge. So why did they go along? Some kind of logrolling deal? Fear of constituent wrath over continued funding of election surveys? What’s the deal? I thought everyone had pretty much agreed to vote down all the amendments to the continuing resolution and get on with other business.

Dan Drezner has much more erudite reasons this is bad policy, but why bother? I have some ideas, but it looks like unless you can fire it, burn it, or get a moron elected, even providing the intellectual justifications for bad military policy isn’t enough to capture a senator’s love.

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