Monkey See, Monkey Do

Perhaps the height of hypocrisy in our dysfunctional political system is the way in which our two major parties continue down the path of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" while avoiding issues that desperately need solving.  Just as with infants on the playground, each party seems content to fall back upon "they started it" as a rationale for obstructionism.

The most recent debacle is currently being played out with respect to President Obama's nomination of Judge Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Senate Republicans have indicated their refusal to consider the nomination while invoking Vice President Biden's declaration during the Bush I presidency (when he was chairman of the judiciary committee) that an anticipated vacancy should not be filled by the sitting President during an election year.   The same mantra was conveniently repeated by Senator Schumer during Bush II.   

There is an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal regarding confirmation bias and the "Biden rule".

Similar misguided finger pointing occurred with respect to the various debt ceiling showdowns during both the Bush II and Obama administrations.  In this case, President Obama was personally on both sides of the ledger.  

Of course, as the game of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" plays out, the copycats have taken dysfunction to a heightened level of absurd political gamesmanship.  In the case of the debt ceiling, the Democrats were content to merely demagogue while the Republicans elected to shut down the government.

Unfortunately, given the politics of incumbency protection, each party sees an electoral advantage to their theatrics.  As recently discussed in a piece written by John Hudak and Molly Reynolds of the Brookings Institution, they suggest that Senator McConnell's refusal to consider the Garland nomination is a direct result of political calculus directly related to the Republican's maintaining control of the Senate in 2016 and reducing primary fights in 2018.

Perhaps the voters will not agree with Senator McConnell in November.   Otherwise, score one more victory for dysfunction and incumbency protection.   

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