By Sally Kohn, CNN Political Commentator
Updated 12:53 PM ET, Mon December 3, 2018
(CNN) Hey Republicans, grow up!
When my young daughter leaves her clothes on the bathroom floor or doesn't carry her dinner plate to the sink, I remind her she's supposed to. And in response, she usually makes that guttural preteen sound, rolls her eyes slightly and says, "I know!" and then does the thing she was supposed to do without being told.
I inevitably can't help asking, "If you know you're supposed to do it, then why didn't you do it without me reminding you?" Children know right from wrong, but why do they need us to remind them to do what's right?
And then, after yet again finding a pair of tiny pajama bottoms on the bathroom floor, I read the news that President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans might support legislation to keep the federal government open — not because it's the right thing to do, which surely they know it is, but because of the death of former President George H.W. Bush.
Specifically, according to reports, Republicans were threatening to grind to a halt the vast majority of our nation's government to extort $5 billion for Trump's border wall. The real price of a shutdown? Certain services and projects would stop, and Republicans would be furloughing almost a million federal workers without pay just days before Christmas. All for a wasteful border wall that even conservative analysts say won't work.
Republicans in Congress have to know that shutting down the federal government to get money for Trump's wall is a bad idea — both bad policy and bad optics. But will they do the right thing on their own and get back to the job of actually crafting policy that makes government work for the hardworking people of this nation? Apparently not without being reminded.
And thus from the grave, Bush is performing his last public service. Republicans, including Trump, might keep the government open just because they don't want to tarnish Bush's memorial with partisan nastiness they otherwise would not hesitate to foist on all of America.
I'm grateful for the excuse — a pause for decorum and basic political sanity. But it raises the question, if Republicans don't think it's appropriate now to burn down the federal government in a petulant temper tantrum over stupid border wall funding, is it appropriate ever?
Why do they need Bush, nudging them from the hereafter, to do the right thing? Why do Republicans seem to think it would be embarrassing to shut down the government and furlough 800,000 federal workers over the holidays only during a presidential mourning period, as opposed to anytime and all the time?
If something is right, it's always right. And if something is wrong, it's always wrong. It's understandable that children need reminding and cajoling to do what they know is right. They are, after all, children. But the Republicans in Congress and the White House are supposed to be fully grown adults and leaders. So what's their excuse?