We need more Tom Coburn’s in Congress


I read today the New York Times article on Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma.   I expected the article to be a perfect slam against a man who holds his views tightly and is not afraid to buck the overreaches in the halls of Congress.

But, I was pleasantly surprised.  While I’m sure the NYT’s references to Coburn’s down-to-earth view and his pride in being called “Dr. NO” are designed to make him look argumentative and out of the mainstream, those are two of the qualities that I admire and believe we need more of in the Congress!

The article makes much of Coburn’s efforts to stop wasteful spending even when he swims upstream against a majority in his own party.  But I believe that both sides of the aisle have become enthralled with their own power and have forgotten their role in Congress which leads to massive spending, elitism, and losing touch with those who put them there.

Not so with Coburn….a practicing family practice physician and Southern Baptist deacon.   I mean who better to speak up about the healthcare monstrosity that the Democrats are trying to foist upon this country than a practicing physician who hasn’t made Washington his only career?

Coburn is certainly not perfect, but the article clearly points out some of the better traits of a man who we could use about 99 more times over in the Senate and 435 times over in House.

Humility and Character:

Senator Tom Coburn’s office is the rare Capitol Hill work space without a “me wall” — the display of photographs of a lawmaker standing beside presidents, foreign leaders and other dignitaries, all illustrating How Big a Deal he is.  

Instead, hanging above Mr. Coburn’s desk is a large framed print of the word “no.” It was a tribute from a liberal voter in New York thanking Mr. Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, for his efforts at thwarting expensive legislation.

Defining Principles:

Known as Dr. No, Mr. Coburn, a family practice physician, views legislative battle less in terms of Republicans versus Democrats than as a matter of yes versus no. He sees himself as a one-man treatment center helping Congress beat its bipartisan addiction to misguided spending.

“I’ve always considered myself an opposition within the opposition,” said Mr. Coburn, whose willingness to block, delay or neuter bills through an array of procedural measures has made him an effective nuisance during his five years in the Senate.

Experience that provides insight into the issues:

Known as Dr. No, Mr. Coburn, a family practice physician……..“My mission is to frame this health care debate in terms of the fiscal ruin of this country,” said the 61-year-old Mr. Coburn, who recently railed on the Senate floor that the federal debt was “waterboarding” his five grandchildren. “I have instructed my staff to clear my schedule for every minute that bill is on the floor.”

Down to earth…knows (and remembers) how the other half lives:

After inflicting migraines in Washington, Mr. Coburn goes home on weekends to Muskogee, where he treats patients on Mondays. He says he does his best thinking aboard his John Deere mower, which can run 20 miles an hour and slash through pretty much anything on his seven-acre meadow. Mr. Coburn dons earplugs, stares straight ahead and cuts a determined swath, just as he does in the Senate.

…………..Mr. Coburn spends as little time as possible in Washington, a place he seems to genuinely dislike. An ordained Southern Baptist deacon, he attends church every Sunday back in Muskogee and teaches a Bible study class. He tries to stop armadillos from tearing up his lawn. He pulls fat water moccasins from his pool.

“I kill them,” he said with relish, “by slicing their heads off with the sharp edge of a shovel.”

I like that last line…seems like a great analogy to what he does in the Senate….killing the poisonous “creatures” (legislation).

I like his allegiance to his beliefs but also his discernment in what is most important at any given time:

Mr. Coburn was elected to the Senate with a reputation for outspoken social conservatism. He had denounced the “homosexual agenda” and said he favored the death penalty “for abortionists and other people who take life.”

These issues remain deeply meaningful to him personally, but “none of these things are important right now,” he said, compared with the “fiscal ruin” he sees the country facing.

“If you look historically, every great republic has died over fiscal issues,” he said. “That is the biggest moral issue of our time.”

And he is a good example of a man who “marches to his own drummer”….and remember, those who are effective, are not always liked and shouldn’t care if they are or not…if they stand on principle…

The first thing you can say about Tom Coburn is that he marches to his own drummer,” said Dick Armey, a Republican who was majority leader in the House when Mr. Coburn served there in the 1990s.

…….His at-times hyperbolic rhetoric, fervent social conservatism and seeming indifference to whether or not people like him have made him something of a lightning rod. “If we wiped out the entire Congress and sent common people who have no political experience, we would get far better results than we have today,” he said in a remark typical of how he views the institution.

I agree with his last statement….of course, Pelosi, Reid, Obama, and other elitists look down upon the “common people”…….. so let’s do our best to replace theses elitist, power-hungry excuses-for-leaders  in 2010 (and 2012), OK?

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One Response

  1. Great post…I’m linking this

    He treats patients for FREE on Mondays

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