Daniel W. Drezner

A Tom Coburn coda

When we last left off with Tom Coburn’s jihad against public funding for political science, Coburn was arguing that, "Theories on political behavior are best left to CNN, pollsters, pundits, historians, candidates, political parties, and the voters, rather than being funded out of taxpayers’ wallets." After the blog mockery that this observation received last week, ...

When we last left off with Tom Coburn’s jihad against public funding for political science, Coburn was arguing that, "Theories on political behavior are best left to CNN, pollsters, pundits, historians, candidates, political parties, and the voters, rather than being funded out of taxpayers’ wallets."

After the blog mockery that this observation received last week, I see that Coburn is doubling down on this strategy

[T]he Oklahoma Republicans office was not shy in its point-by-point rebuttal, with jokes about tweed jackets and the cushy life of the average college professor, and questions about whether ivory-tower political scientists aren’t overmatched by the semiprofessionals on the cable and network talkfests.

"The irony of this complaint is that real-world political science practitioners employed by media outlets – [George] Stephanopoulos, [Peggy] Noonan, James Carville, Karl Rove, Paul Begala, Larry Kudlow, Bill Bennett (the list goes on) – may know more about the subject than any of our premier political science faculties," Coburn spokesman John Hart said.

Well, one could respond with jokes about the uber-cushy life of the average U.S. senator, or proffer jokes about Coburn’s belief that he’s a human lie detector, or just marvel at the vast foreign policy knowledge that Stephanopoulos, Noonan, Carville, Rove, Begala, Kudlow, and Bennett possess. 

But I honestly don’t see the point anymore.  Matt Blackwell at the Social Science Statistics blog explains why:

In the 111th Congress, Coburn has had very little success with his amendments [batting 3 for 29, or .103–DD]…

Seven of the rejections are instances when Coburn’s amendment was tabled without discussion. Most of the rejections have been of proposed budget cuts or banning funds from certain projects And this is just in this year. Out of all the roll call votes on Coburn-sponsored amendments in the Senate over his tenure, only 8 out of 68 have actually passed….

Tom Coburn knows that putting out no-win amendments is a great way to take positions in the Senate without committing to anything. Minority amendments are a costless signal of the blandest kind–even a political scientist can see that.

Indeed. 

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola