Political Science Meets Politics, Gets Butt Kicked

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Yesterday, the Senate passed an amendment that eliminates the NSF’s $13 million budget for political science research. That’s “13,” as in thirteen, and million with an “M.”

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.

Politico has nothing on this. I’m disappointed. I want the dirt. There’s got to be a story here of some kind.

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