Hanlon’s Razor states: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Ben Domenech has a must read in today’s Transom that highlights this and dovetails with Leon’s excellent takedown/analysis of the current iteration of Failure Theater the Senate, under [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ]’s flaccid leadership, has performed on the Planned Parenthood scandal.
“They don’t give a damn about governing.” http://vlt.tc/21ef That’s the headline takeaway from the New York Times’s Jackie Calmes’ academic paper for Harvard, which has all the content you would expect from a source for whom “epistemic closure” is a phrase they use more often than “is this gluten free?”.
The sad thing isn’t that this paper exists, or that it’s so mediocre in its analysis. The sad thing is the percentage of the Senate Republican Caucus that would probably agree with most if not all of it, particularly when it comes to its definition of “governing”.
The idea that the Senate Republicans have accepted is that “governing” equates to passing new policies, and that blocking bad policies is some form of anarchic knownothingism. If you accept the idea that the ability to govern is all about passing legislation and winning elections, no matter what that legislation includes or who those elections elect, then the approach you use is not actually aligned with the priorities of the conservative base, which holds the view that blocking bad policies is actually more important than making new policy.
This definitional problem creates a serious degree of cognitive dissonance for grassroots conservatives when they hear, for instance, that someone like [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has no legislative accomplishments. From their perspective, legislative accomplishments are all about blocking bad policy, fighting against bad legislation, and defunding bad programs – steps which generally make one a royal pain in the ass for the Washington elite who want the business of politics to work as it usually does: prioritizing their priorities.
This leads us to the current situation, where the Senate Republican Conference gives every indication of being completely out of touch with its base over the issue of Planned Parenthood. Conversations with members reveal that they largely believe they have addressed the issue with their vote last week, and that additional hearings and investigations will be sufficient to mollify those who are pushing for defunding. There are a disturbing number of Senators and staffers who believe they’re heading home for a recess where people will stand up at town halls and say, “Wait, Senator, you’re telling me you passed Trade Promotion Authority, and reauthorized No Child Left Behind, and passed the longest highway bill in ten years? Wow, I am totally satisfied and not thinking at all about defunding Planned Parenthood now.” As ABC steps go, this is Underpants Gnome madness. To whit, the Senate Republican plan is:
A. Hold hearings and investigations to prove that Planned Parenthood is absolutely definitely harvesting organs and trading them for cash.
B. Vote to fund Planned Parenthood.
Defund planned parenthood vote 53-46; need 7 more. Can you help us get them?
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 4, 2015
What, exactly, would they do with 7 more Senators? Presumably they would engage in even more egregious betrayals of the people who elected them.
This is not new stuff. For years, we, at RedState, have counselled the GOP that passing bad policy is not governing, it is simply passing bad stuff. Hell, the founder of the Democrat party (back when that party actually had Christian values and cared about America) said: That government is best which governs the least. When you lack the votes to pass good stuff, then governing can very easily become preventing bad things from happening. This is what the GOP, particularly the Senate fails to understand. I wrote in detail on this knuckleheaded behavior by the GOP two years ago (see Obamacare and “Governing” Trap and The Budget Shutdown Was About Ideology Not Tactics) and Message to the GOP: Governing is not crony capitalism). Right after the November elections, my colleague Leon Wolf wrote Dear Republicans; No On Elected You to Work with Democrats.
Somehow [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] and [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] have come to the conclusion that passing Democrat legislation and funding Democrat priorities is bipartisan governance so long as they can bribe and bully enough Republicans to create a majority. I don’t see malice here. I see people so drunk with the sound of their own voice and so engorged on their own press clippings that they actually believe that they best represent their constituents by acquiescing to Democrat priorities because political fights are unseemly.
Then, again, I might be wrong. Because Robert Heinlein modified Hanlon’s Razor into Heinlein’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.”